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Herman just needs a hug

June 14, 2000

Come on everyone, now it's Washington County Schools Superintendent Herman "Napoleon" Bartlett who needs a hug.

He said last week he was "shocked" and "hurt" that teachers find him intimidating and are afraid to speak their minds for fear of reprisal.

Well, I personally am shocked and hurt that the Superallisimo is shocked and hurt. I think he should take charges of intimidation as encouragement and praise.

Here, I am thinking darkly back to my time in the slammer, I mean in public schools, and anything that served as teacher intimidation I would have been heartily all for.

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Where were the "intimidated teachers" when we leaned all the desks, domino style, in a circle and all went down with wonderful symmetry when the seventh-grade science autocrat opened the door to her classroom?

Was she intimidated? Heck no. I logged three days of janitor duty for that one.

If teachers were so "intimidated" they never showed it around me. And I'll bet you a cheese doughnut that the same teachers who are today complaining about intimidation from above have no qualms about meting out heapin helpins of intimidation upon those below.

Washington County teachers say they do not feel as if they can speak their minds. Well, when I was in school, I oftentimes tried to do something as simple as speak my mind when I believed the system was in error. And I was fair about it. I never took my grievances to the personnel office, or filled out multiple forms. Rather, I spoke out in the open forum of the classroom about how my teachers, through a few simple changes in their ways, could benefit all students.

Perhaps my treatise would be shunned and voted down by my fellow students. But I had confidence in the time-tested "marketplace of ideas," and if I failed to win approval of, say, the abolition of the Periodic Table, so be it.

But was I rewarded for these free, refreshing expressions of honest criticism? Hardly. I was chastised, threatened and reproached. In a word, intimidated.

So, for those deep scars, those unhealing wounds of my youth, I am ready to stand by the Superallisimo as a supporter and adviser in any real or imagined intimidation campaign. I realize that a few "advisers" is how the war in Vietnam got started, but I am willing to take that chance.

The first element to intimidation is surveillance, and I learned in school you have to keep your eye on teachers because, left to their own devices, you never know what they'll do. Yes, Bartlett can charge unannounced into a classroom to be sure the teacher is sticking, template like, to the county's pre-approved lesson plan, but he's only one man.

Obviously we need cameras in the classrooms, monitored by a team of administrators trained to detect the slightest deviation from standards and practices.

The second element of intimidation is problem-detection, and here I would recommend a system much like the home detention ankle bracelets worn by criminals.

Fitted with a computer chip programmed with a triple cache that's been stepped up to streaming standardized lesson plans megahertzed onto an MP3 drag portnet with voice recognitioning system linked virtually with every like-graded classroom in the county, these bracelets (worn around the forehead, I would suggest) would be sensitive to deviations releasing "Creative Thinking" alarms wherever the plan was not strictly followed.

Ha ha, somewhere there is a public school teacher nervously lighting a cigarette and wishing she had never made me learn that pointless Base 4 mathematics system. Little did they know that the day would come when I had my time for revenge.

And finally, of course, once the culprit is identified, the third element of intimidation is punishment. What is fitting for teachers who deviate from the norm? It should be severe.

I'm thinking three days of janitor duty ought to do it.


Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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