Ever since I was a kid I had a strong dislike for bullies and those who attempted to be bullies, but were unsuccessful. At a younger agephysical imbalance was usually a strong factor. If the bully was not a big kid, maybe their older siblingwas. Sometimes the bully was smaller, but more assertive and louder and picked on defenseless, quieter and sometimes bigger prey. Whatever the case, it definitely was notworkplace bullying we experienced in our youth. That bullying takes place later on when someones power over another has to do with paycheck and supervision.
I did a pretty good job of avoiding bullies. No one really wants to beat on the kid that cracks jokes all the time. When it was necessary to defend myself I did though. One time, during a cold winter day, a few older guys in my neighborhood thought it would be fun to instigate a fight between me and one of their younger brothers. The kid and I were actually friends, but hesuccumbed to peer pressure and the name calling began. Remember we didn’t have all the technology to distract and entertain us that we have these days. A fight in the neighborhood was one step below watching Hulk Hogan wrestling on TV.
It had just snowed and the ground was slick. I stood in front of my house as the boys were across thestreet. “Come here and fight him. He’s saying blah blah blah about you!” they yelled out to me laughing. “I can’t. I’m not allowed to cross the street.” I yelled back. That wasn’t the only reason, again we were friends and I just didn’t want to fight. I was also not good at fighting and weighed ten pounds soaking wet. Of course I had theoption of walking a few steps into my house, but knew I would be angry with myself and it was not a permanent solution to this problem.
The older kidegged my friendon and pushed his younger brother, who by the way was bigger than me, towards my direction. “Go get him!” The boy was off and I stood watching what looked like a locomotive coming at me. I braced for impact as I stood by my imaginary boundary. Then, all of a sudden, an amazing thing happened. The snow had covered a pool of frozen slushy water that collected at the dip where my neighbors driveway met the street. The boy slipsand falls on his back in a pool of what had the consistency of a frozen margarita. He ran home. His brother and friends laughed hysterically, so they got their entertainment and me…I went inside unscathed and with some dignity.
Unfortunately, life is not set up where you can just avoid bullies. Since theinception of this blog, almost three years ago, I have been sharing how I fought back against workplace bullies. “They want to come after me, then I will share a play by play log of it online.” Even reporter Susan Edelman of the NY Post once wrote:
“A technology teacher with a chip on his shoulder has taken a battle with his boss out of the schoolyard and into cyberspace.
Francesco Portelos, 33, a teacher at IS 49 Bertha Dreyfus in Staten Island, has created a Web site in which he posts embarrassing internal e-mails from principal Linda Hill and even the disciplinary letters she has put in his file.
The site, Dont Tread on Mr. Portelos whose logo is a rattlesnake atop an apple first proclaims, I love my job, and boasts of accomplishments such as leading an award-winning robotics team.”
As you might have read, I fought back the bullying and attacks on my career and truly believe ProtectPortelos.org actually helpedprotect Portelos.Since my site and fight back became popular I was inundated with other educators from around thecity and around thecountry who are in similar shoes. The attacks on educators are far and wide and more extensive than you can possibly imagine. Not only does the attack affect the educator and their families, but also their students.
At some point I thought to create a separate site called Don’t Tread on Educators (DTOE.org). That site now became a more general sharing of different stories. I started saying “Go public or go home.” because the game was set up where you were outnumbered, out-budgeted, out-resourced and the union that should be defending has decided to take a backseat and watch. Sometimes they have actually been in collusion. Yes, it is true. One of thehundreds of stories I heard was another chapter union rep sent to the rubber room and UFT District Representative Clark actually assisting in recalling thetitle of the chapter rep. When the chapter rep won the first recall attempt, District Rep Clark apparently tried again and succeeded.
DTOE.orghas wound up taking a life of its own. We started meeting around the city at halls or basements of churches and now are a group of over 400 on Facebook. At one point we realized we have to expose the supervisors that attack these educators and we came up with the ANOI list. The Administrators in Need of Improvement. We created a nomination form and shared it out. To date over 60 administrators have been nominated. This was an improvement from the UFT’s Principals in Need of Improvement list (PINI). A list that no longer exists and is now hidden in the bottom of Michael Mulgrew’s desk drawer. I asked him about it once at a chapterleader workshop. He responded”We do not share the list or publicize it.” So what’s the point
See the last rally the UFT ever had against an administrator. Even this one was not planned or supported by UFT leadership until it got so big that they had to be involved.
By the way, years later, Principal Iris Blige is still there. Yes, she is on our ANOI List.
The DOE Tweed directors, Chancellor Farina, Michael Mulgrew, the UFT, CSA union and the rest arenot going to do anything about these bully administrators, but we were. We did. We will continue.
Yesterday we unleashed and published thelist. We shared some links to the administrators on social media first and in just under two days DTOE.org has had over 3,000 hits.
Without further ado we present the initial list of bully administrators who need some improvement.
Know that as you are retaliating on whistleblowers, pushing out veteran teachers or destroying the careers of new ones, you are most likely being legally recorded. Your emails and finances are being obtained throughFOIL. You will be exposed. Your senior field counsel and if necessary network and cluster leaders will be exposed. Social media is our media. Perhaps your best recourse is to support and collaborate with your staff and parents.Tread lightly…