Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Anti-Bullying Action

Ann Arbor's Superintendent sent out a very nice letter wherein she lays out how it is that some anti-bullying legislation at the state level now has a loophole so large you could drive a truck through it, that essentially allows bullying if it is based on your religious beliefs.

[ think Jews will rot in hell?  I guess it wouldn't be considered bullying if you called an 8-year-old Jewish kid "Satan's spawn." You think homosexuality is morally wrong? It would be ok to call a gay kid names if it was motivated by religion.] Yes, it's that bad.

What is nice about this letter is that she also gives phone numbers to take action. And, the information is applicable to every school in this state, so don't let the fact that you live in Saline, Chelsea, or Ypsilanti deter you from opposing this bill. Here is the letter:

Dear AAPS Families and Community Members,

I was recently informed by the State Superintendent of Schools of a major change in the proposed anti-bullying legislation. The passage of State legislation regarding bullying (SB 137) had been anticipated as a tool to help enforce and protect students from any form of bullying in schools. Instead, recent language changes in the proposed legislation is turning it into a bill, and potentially a law, that would permit bullying a student if it is “a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.” This recent change in the legislative language by the Michigan Senate is disturbing and potentially dangerous. It clearly makes exceptions for bullying behavior based on religious beliefs or moral convictions.

I will be writing to Governor Snyder and the Legislature to voice my concern regarding this “exception” in the legislation and I encourage members of the community to let the Governor and legislators know your opinions on this legislation as well.  I believe this new language can endanger students by justifying bullying behavior. It is my belief that bullying cannot be justified in schools and that intimidation and harassment of students are unacceptable. As Superintendent of Schools, I am alarmed to see the inclusion of this new language, which can be potentially harmful in allowing and/or justifying unacceptable behavior in a school setting. Please let the Governor and state legislators know your opinion of the language added to Senate Bill 137.  Their addresses are attached for your convenience.


Patricia P. Green

Patricia P. Green, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools

Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
(517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services

Representative Mark Ouimet
S-986 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, Mi  48909-7514

Representative Jeff Irwin
S-987 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI  48909-7514
(517) 373-5808

Senator Rebekah Warren
Lansing Office
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
(517) 373-2406

Update 11/11/11: Steven Colbert has something to say about this legislation:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Bully Pulpit
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


  1. Just called the Governor's office about section 8 (of SB 137, which contains the hateful language) and asked what the Governor's position is. I was told that "the Governor doesn't take a position on legislation until it reaches his desk." I said that made sense in many cases, but what about hate speech - surely the Governor able to take a position on that. According to his representative, no, he cannot.

  2. I wrote letters to all the people she listed in her letter. Irwin suggested I write to "House Speaker Jase Bolger. The Speaker can be reached at (517) 373-1787 or by email at" I contacted Jase Bolger and received this reply:
    "I do believe protecting students from bullying in school is important, and I support efforts to remove special classifications of students and focus on bullying in general, not bullying for particular reasons. Senate Bill 137, which recently passed the Senate has been referred to the Committee on Education where it will remain. The House has undertaken the drafting of an entirely new bill that draws upon the basic principles mentioned above: that bullying is wrong regardless of who the victim is, who the bully is or their motivation for bullying. We are working to gain consensus on this issue so that we can finally put an anti-bullying measure into place that will help schools provide Michigan's students with a safe learning environment."

    On a side note, what a great (missed) opportunity this was to address PBIS and why A2 schools are implimenting this program. I think the program could have more support if there was more community support (and input) for the program (instead of tickets and dollar store prizes - but that's just my humble opinion).

  3. Thanks, both of you!

    Anon, she still has time to follow up on PBIS, and that would be good, since I (for one) have no idea what that is!