COE challenges accusation of negligence

The UAA College of Education (COE) was recently accused of not responding to an invitation for an anti-bullying forum in a guest editorial published in The Press on May 19. The guest editorial by Dennis Maloney, an Anchorage lawyer and founder of the nonprofit Bye-Bye Bullies, appeared on page seven under the title “It’s time to stop bullying in Anchorage.”

Maloney listed COE as one of several offices that “have failed to responded to our invitations to support or participate in our upcoming presentations on May 20 and 21.”

Maloney said he left several voice mails and sent several e-mails to the Dean of Education, Mary Snyder. In a phone interview, Maloney said he had received no reply from Snyder.

When asked about the issue, Snyder forwarded TNL the e-mail she sent to Maloney. She commented, “I did reply rather late.”

The e-mail commended Maloney for his efforts, and outlined what COE is doing to increase awareness of the damages that bullying can cause, specifically a course in suicide prevention.

Snyder concluded the e-mail, with “I will send out your announcement about Friday’s meeting to COE faculty. Do you still need a laptop and/or projector? The College could loan you these items.”

Snyder said that she did receive a response.

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James Powell, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, said that he did receive Snyder’s e-mail and sent it to all of the department’s faculty and students.

“For two years running we’ve provided space and opportunity for (Bye-Bye Bullies) to speak with students in our department. The problem is that they scheduled it once most of the students graduated,” Powell said.

His comment echoed ASD superintendent Carol Comeau’s e-mail, which Maloney cited in his guest editorial for the Press.

“I will let staff know of these opportunities. As I said before, May 20 is the last work day for teachers and support staff,” Comeau wrote.

Anti-bullying presentation

One of the events Maloney referred to in his editorial to the press took place at Romano’s.  Stuart W. Twemlow, a professor of psychiatry at Baylor University and a consultant for the Columbine shootings, presented ”Creating a peaceful community in Anchorage.”

Twemlow opened by comparing his findings on the situation at Columbine high school, prior to their tragedy, to the current situation at South Anchorage High School. The shock of Columbine was not only the number of victims, but also the neighborhood that it occurred in. Good neighborhoods are not immune to violence, Twemlow said. In fact, research shows that schools that focus more on academics—without increased parental or social involvement—have higher problems of bullying.

Before the shooting, Columbine ranked number 2 in the nation for public high schools.  It had the most graduates attending ivy leagues in the country, the best sports teams, and the most daily attendance.

The parents of both shooters were hippies with advanced degrees and advocates for gun control. Dylan Klebold, one of the two perpetrators, was named after the famous Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.

This environment that bred success, but also isolation encouraged the bullying that led to violence.

“It’s in the school that the murderer is created,” Twemlow said.

Twemlow suggested several things to decrease bullying in Anchorage schools:

  • Encourage teachers to attend PTA meetings.
  • Acknowledge that zero-tolerance policies do not work
  • Anti-bullying programs often do not work because their process is flawed.
  • Let children play

o   “I know of no other country that gives as much homework”

  • School, family, and community should never be thought as separate.
  • Improve perceived safety at schools.

o   “unsafe children cannot learn. Literally a dozen studies that show that,” Twemlow said.

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