According to the Workplace Bullying Institute survey of 2007, 37 percent of workers have been bullied, and 72 percent of those were bullied by their bosses. No workplace is immune to it. This is a serious and underestimated problem, even in institutions of learning, where one might think that the administrations in our public schools would be above such a thing.
Utah Teachers United represents public- school teachers, and we’ve seen this aggressive behavior toward teachers escalate. When effective teachers with no history of problems are targeted by an administrator, an alarm should sound. However, we have seen firsthand how administrators abuse their positions of authority over teachers in a way that is so insulting, so demeaning, it demands a policy be put in place to deal with workplace bullying.
It is troubling to see the many negative comments by the public, in addition to discouraging legislation on national and local levels, aimed at making teachers appear to be the sole problem of what is wrong with education today. Making their job more difficult is not the solution to better outcomes in our schools.
Many forget that classroom teachers, like any person in the workforce, have a boss. Bosses direct the employees so they know what they are expected to do. The bullying administrator steals from the teacher and therefore robs students of what they need and deserve in the classroom. Some of the qualities desired in a teacher, such as confidence, individuality, loyalty and self-esteem, are ripped away, leaving health issues to crop up as the quality of life is diminished for these educators. Many are encouraged by management to resign (regardless if the school year is still in progress), as opposed to having a termination on their record.
It is shocking to see how easily a bully can destroy the career of a teacher. We need experienced, effective teachers in the classroom. Instead of perpetuating and condoning bullying, administration on every level should be setting an example for staff and students.
Maybe House Bill 196—the Abusive Workplace Policies Act—will help them do just that.
Utah Teachers United