Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bullying of Students by Adults will Continue, in the Name of 'Free Speech"

I wrote to my state Representative (with whom I'm on a first-name basis, not because we agree, but because I hound him so often), and my state Senator. I posted it on my previous blog. I asked for their help in creating buffer zones around schools to protect kids' privacy and parents' rights. Here is my paraphrase of his response...NOW I no longer believe in the Constitution?? Seriously?

He accused me of opposing the Constitution and freedom of speech. He told me HE DOES believe in freedom of speech, as long as people are following the law. He told me he talked to 'several' students at NNHS and they were find with the demonstrators at North. He ended with his right to disagree with my stand...he doesn't agree with my concerns.

AND, my response. Clearly we will get no help from this Norman Rep, unless more than just my voice is heard.

"Oh, you have deliberately misinterpreted my words and tried to assign motivation when there is none. You have not responded to my concerns at all...buffer zones do not impede anyones' right to speech. It allows fourteen-year-olds to go home without having brochures of a very graphic nature thrust into their back packs at school.

You have not responded to my concerns about parents' rights. In the school, they have the right to approve of curriculum and books that are sensitive in nature. If they decide they don't want their students to participate, the school gives them alernative assignments. In schools, we must have a signed permission in order to videotape or photograph students. We cannot publish their name in a school directory without parent permission.

But as they are leaving that school where parents DO have rights, and they cross onto the sidewalk, suddenly parents have no rights. Their child -- minor child -- can be videotaped without consent, that video can be edited and posted on YouTube, without parent permission. The child's face is clearly identifiable and the child is clearly being mocked for his beliefs.

I would feel the same way if the military comes into school and talks to minors without parent permission (not sure, but I think that's already ok). I felt the same way when the OSDE published the names, addresses, and IEP labels of students who had failed to graduate because of EOIs and had requested waivers. I hear in Chicago school officials are interrogating children whose parents opted out of testing...interrogating children without their parents being present.

This is an issue of parental rights, sir. You have heard from students who were not offended. I hear from ones who were offended and traumatized. Trading stories is not going to solve the problem.
Students are required by law to attend school. They must pass from the care of the school to the care of their parents. Inside the school, parents have rights. Inside their homes parents have rights. Outside the school on the sidewalk, they seem to have no rights. No rights to privacy, no rights to choose what their child is exposed to.

Buffer zones limit no one's right to free speech. They would perhaps protect sensitive, impressionable kids until they were again in their parents' presence.

So, I'll turn the question around. So, you are fine with strangers videotaping your grandchildren on the steps of the school, and then posting that video, with their faces clearly identifiable, on YouTube, to ridicule and mock them?

Are you truly saying parents and children have no right to emotional safety or privacy?"

A friend called it like it is: AHA is bullying our kids, and there is nothing, according to my Representative, I can do, since bullying (free speech) is in the constitution (sic). What about all those laws they pass about bullying in school, and cyberbullying? 

So, now I'm really worried and interested...what kind of rights DO parents have when their minor children are traveling from home to school and school to home? What does society owe these parents? I thought I knew, but perhaps I don't. 

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