I have to admit, my response would be to pull out the kids you speak of, and find something that develops work ethic, and personal satisfaction.

I have now three post-secondary degrees, and teach in an MFA program. True I teach part-time…but I make just over $36,000/yr…for 8 years of education. I made $36,000 in my last year as a hairdresser in ’92, when I owned my own — very small — salon. Go figure…

As for bullying and schools, you are so right — should be zero tolerance. BUT the worst bullies in the public system ARE the teachers, and the principals…and after that, it trickles down. Kids observe; they see that this is how adults conduct themselves in many spheres of workplace, and they grab on with the subconscious knowledge that this is a life skill. And to some extent, alas, they are quite right! Shhhh….

I did not know this until I did a practicum in a grade seven class. The VP was an ex-cop with a decidedly mean edge to him. Ah, I could go on… I’ll stop.

The NEXT school I went to however, I have to say, the Principal and VP were an amazing team! They demonstrated to me and to everyone in that place what CAN be…it was most heartening to see. The Principal was well over 6 feet tall, and had a permanent curve in his back, from lowering himself to the height of a child. When I first saw the VP, she was on hands and knees drying slushy snow from the entrance hallway so no one would slip. I thought she was an angel…so they do exist, the good ones. I have to add these words, otherwise this is such a downer :)

Alison Acheson’s latest books: memoir of caregiving, Dance Me to the End: Ten Months and Ten Days With ALS; picturebook, A Little House in a Big Place.

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