Readers comments 10-28-17
Bullying at CHS
Jack Sultze wrote the editor on October 20 with concerns about bullying at Claremont High School (CHS). The mission of CHS is “to nurture the academic, social, physical, and emotional development of all students to prepare them to take their place as productive and invested members of the larger world community.”
The CHS staff and I know that numerous factors contribute to the development of our students over many years, including family and societal norms, religious institutions and local community culture.
CHS is also responsible for modeling and teaching social skills that positively influence our students’ emotional development. A key component of meeting these goals is to address bullying. We do that in many ways at CHS.
Throughout the year at CHS our Wolfcast TV program delivers content on the different types of bullying: physical, verbal, social and cyber bullying. The content also addresses the mental health implications of bullying.
Students are also taught what they can do when they observe bullying: intervene, separate the students and report it to a caring adult. Bullying is a pernicious behavior that can be addressed only if it is known.
Last spring, CHS implemented the BullyBox, a digital application designed to allow students to report acts of bullying or other school safety concerns anonymously. Information shared on the app is immediately emailed to CHS administrators. This year as part of our Digital Citizenship Curriculum, all CHS students will receive a module on cyberbullying.
Most importantly, our staff is trained to intervene and report any time they observe bullying on campus. The administration imposes appropriate discipline when a student is caught bullying.
CHS will continue to work tirelessly to educate our students and staff about bullying. Additionally, we will continue to analyze our student survey data and implement the best research-based practices to mitigate bullying at CHS.
Brett O’Connor, EdD
In a recent letter to the editor, Jack Sultze expresses concerns about the problem of bullying at Claremont High School. He discusses the damaging impact of bullying and criticizes the school board for what he perceives to be a complacent response to the problem.
We agree with Mr. Sultze that bullying is a serious matter and we absolutely need to curtail it as much as possible. We agree that bullying is unacceptable behavior.
So why does Mr. Sultze find fault with our local school board? His criticism appears to be based on misunderstandings derived from an article that appeared in the COURIER on October 13.
Mr. Sultze is particularly upset that board members praised Claremont High School for a significant decrease in the percentage of students reporting bullying (from 28.3 percent to 18.4 percent) compared to the previous year. He asks, “What happened to zero tolerance for bullying?”
Of course we agree with zero tolerance for bullying. In fact, during the public meeting covered in the COURIER article, several school board members actually said, “zero tolerance” and “totally unacceptable” in their comments about bullying, although those specific words were not quoted in the article.
The problem is that zero tolerance of bullying does not magically result in zero incidents of bullying. Most abusive behavior is carefully concealed from adults on campus, and victims are often reluctant to complain. There are no quick and simple solutions to this problem.
As a retired teacher, I can attest to the impossibility of detecting every instance of bullying that might occur in a classroom of 36 students over 180 days. Bullying is even more difficult to detect and prevent outside of the classroom during passing periods, lunch and before and after school hours. Cyberbullying via social media is another aspect of this problem that defies simple solution.
CHS has made significant progress in addressing and reducing bullying. A decrease of one-third in a 12-month period deserves praise, rather than ridicule. Efforts to further reduce bullying will continue.
Constructive suggestions would be welcome, from Mr. Sultze or anyone else who cares about our students.
President, Claremont Unified School District Board of Education
The recent pieces in the COURIER by Dan Dell’Osa and Jim Belna expressing outrage over the city’s attempt acquire our water system share a very specific outlook. All that counts in their view is money.
The city spent a considerable sum for no return and that is the heart of the “debacle,” the “fiasco.” Even the attribution of the reason for people having supported the attempt—reduced water rates—involves only money. They can see no further than monetary loss and gain.
For supporters of the effort to acquire, there are things in life more important than the cost of a line of action. In fact, the chief motive for the action was the desire on the part of citizens to secure control over something essential to life: water.
The chief aim was to remove control over our water supply from a private business and put the city in charge of a very important requirement for our well-being.
Of course, it would have been nice to have lower water rates but that was a peripheral matter, something that was not at all guaranteed but that would have been a pleasant addition to achieving our water independence.
The city made it quite clear that, given the assignment of a judge to the case was a crapshoot, legal success was not certain. And it happened that the assigned judge was someone who also did not appreciate the value of a city being in command of its own needs, someone who held the rights of business to be more important than the rights of citizens to be their own masters.
So while it is to be regretted that we lost, and while there will always be disagreement by people over how much financial loss can be tolerated in the pursuit of something valuable, the aim of acquiring the water system looks to be quite defensible.
Of course, given the loss—of both the suit and the money—there should be an official inquiry into how the city proceeded. But any such commission must be aware that the fundamental issue is not money as the writers to the COURIER assume.
A perspective on snowflakes
A writer in the Readers’ Comments last week used the word “snowflake,” so I looked it up to see what the heck this fairly-new-to-me term means. Here’s one of several spins on it I found on UrbanDictionary.com:
“A hypersensitive, irrational person who can’t stand to have their world views challenged, or be offended in any perceived or even slightest of ways; they will have any number of emotional reactions: impugning character and/or motives, blocking on social media, shouting, interrupting, threatening, assaulting, etc. They often live in an echo chamber of their own beliefs and surround themselves exclusively with people and opinions that agree with their own. This term is most often used to describe left-leaning people, but can be applied [to] both left and right wing people.”
So these traits are most often used to describe us left-leaning people (by right-wingers, I assume)? Really? Has anyone watched Fox News lately (talk about an echo chamber!) or seen how Trump goes ballistic on Twitter when anyone dares to offend him regarding anything he says or does (no matter how offensive it is, by the way)?
And just consider how the president has surrounded himself with people who—as part of their job description, no doubt—must support him no matter what. One would almost conclude there is a new Executive Branch agency: The Department of Apologists.
So as far as “snowflake-ism” is concerned, I believe there is enough snow to go around these days.