• 73°

Everyone Who Cares About K-12 Education Needs To Read This

One of the most important steps any school system can take to improve the academic performance of its students is also virtually free:

Establish a firm anti-bullying climate-in the school, on school buses, school grounds, social media, everywhere.

That's it.

No appropriation necessary.

Not tax increase required.

This piece of the solution is free.

The price of doing less than what is necessary to eradicate bullying, on the other hand, is prohibitive.

Bullying is a cancer that cripples the lives of all who come within its grasp, whether they are bullied, the one who bullies, or are bystanders. Entire school systems can see academic achievement and test scores crumble because of its malignancy.

Bullying is like a nuclear meltdown-the “radiation” of bullying mutates the lives of children into something that should not be. Simple peer exclusion in kindergarten can wall out academic success for the remainder of a lifetime.

That is not my opinion. It is proven fact. The reason that everyone who cares about K-12 education needs to read this editorial is not my words but because of the words I quote extensively below from the Virginia State Board of Education which prove, beyond the shadow of any doubt, the school-system wide consequences of bullying.

If you free students from any thought of being bullied they will elevate their academic performance which, in turn, improves the test score results of schools and school systems which go all-in to eradicate bullying.

Nothing could be clearer than these words on the state board of education's website:

“Research increasingly links bullying with diminished academic success. Peer exclusion has been shown to be more toxic to academic growth than other forms of peer abuse. In a study of 380 students in kindergarten through 5th grade (researchers) found that peer rejection in kindergarten frequently led to peer exclusion throughout elementary school.

“This exclusion led the participants in the study to withdraw from classroom participation. Specifically, these children withdrew from following teacher directions, participating in small groups, taking initiative for excelling, and accepting responsibility for class and homework,” the trio of researchers found.

“This led to progressively lower scores on standardized tests and a decrease in achievement on the Wide Range Achievement Test. Though both physical and verbal bullying led to an increase in school avoidance, the impact on academic performance was highest among students who were bullied through exclusion.

The researchers “found that bullied students reported disliking school and received lower grades than students that were not regular targets of bullying behavior,” the State Board of Education's website states.

There is more:

“Bullying in schools has wider impact than on simply those students who are victims or perpetrators. Bystanders may feel unsafe and have difficulty learning. Lower academic achievement, higher dropout rates, and increased school absenteeism are additional burdens placed upon students, schools, parents, and society.”

And still more:

“At the 119tth convention of the American Psychological Association in 2011, a University of Virginia study reported that school-wide passing rates for Algebra I, Earth Science, and World History on standardized tests used in Virginia for determining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) were three percent to six percent lower in schools where students reported more severe bullying.

“'This difference is substantial because it affects the school's ability to meet federal requirements and the educational success of many students who don't pass the exams,' Dewey G. Cornell said in a statement. This study supports the case for school-wide bullying prevention programs as a step to improve school climate and facilitate academic achievement,” the state board of education reports.

“Researchers have found that systematic bullying prevention efforts in schools can positively affect school performance and lead to increased achievement on test scores. (Researchers) found that students in elementary schools that had implemented bullying and violence prevention programs for two years or more demonstrated higher achievement than did a matched comparison group of control schools with no bullying prevention programs. Furthermore, when students left the schools with the programs and transferred to schools without programs, their academic achievement dropped.”

That is not an opinion, but proven fact.

Bullying occurs in schools across the globe.

Don't let anyone get away with claiming otherwise.

According to information also on the state board of education's website, an immense survey of 11 to 15 year-olds in 40 nations around the world shows that 26 percent of them had been regularly involved in bullying-two to three times a month, or more.

Nearly 11 percent of them were bullies, over 12 percent were the victims of bullies and just about 4 percent describe themselves as both bullies and bullied.

That's the world.

In the United States of America, the survey shows that 22.2 percent of the boys surveyed and 16.6 percent of the girls surveyed reported “regular involvement in bullying, either as perpetrator, victim or bully/victim.”

The evil of bullying can and must be stopped.

It costs nothing but the will to do so.

Lack the will and everyone involved loses their way in life; whole communities can be left looking for a compass without even knowing why.