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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Race to the Top Given New Meaning in Education

Article first published by Laurie Borland as A Race to the Top Given New Meaning in Education on

Sunday October 9th, kicked off Anderson Cooper's Anti Bullying special, Bullying Stops Here. The discussion spanned multiple topics of bullying: the bully, the bullied, parents of both, teachers, school staff, on campus, off campus, who is responsible and how to stop it.

I applaud AC360 (CNN) for stepping out and building a multi platform media initiative with Facebook, Cartoon Network and Time Inc., not to mention the others brought in for the panel such as the students, Doctor Phil, Kelly Ripa, and many others. This is a beginning, but this is how we will move forward.....using multiple platforms with the same beliefs to make a united stand and form a banner across many media that creates a stronger voice for a new direction. That is how we make change....."We are really looking for solutions as opposed to what the problem is," says Anderson Cooper.

In a previous interview Anderson Cooper did with a panel of high school students, he asked them if high school feels like social combat. They all agreed absolutely it feels like social combat. "It's pretty much a race to the top of the social ladder and that is pretty much why bullying occurs." How ironic our new approach to education was addressed with a program called Race to the Top. Not only did the students uncover the discussion about a race to the top, but they talked about how everyone is both a bully and a victim at one time or another. This topic is not black and white by any means.

Sunday night, one of the children on the panel and also a victim of bullying wanted to sing during the show. He was a fan of Lady Gaga. I was slightly afraid of what might happen to him, but he belted out Born This Way…a cappella. It sent chills down my spine and probably Lady Gaga's too.

Lady Gaga has become a light for those who feel different. She has become a supporter of anti bullying and has become active in helping shed light on the issues at hand, including a discussion with President Obama. So.... can the power of one make a difference? Lady Gaga took that bull by the horns and has become the poster child for anti bullying. Ghandi said, "Be the change in the world that you wish to see." This brave souled child on the panel took his chance and let his voice be heard in more ways than one. We should all take a lesson from that. Take a stand for what you believe. Music and Media are great ways to be heard. Now, we need to take that voice and "begin with the end in mind" (Stephen Covey) so that we can build solutions.

We know there is a need to help those being bullied and those bullying. As Doctor Phil pointed out, we must realize that a problem lies between both parties involved. One may be fearful of using his/her own voice to stand up for themselves and the other won't stop or refuse to feel empathy for another in order to feel a false sense of "power" or "control" within themselves. The big problem becomes that teenagers are learning who they are and if they each are telling one another who they are is nothing, lifelong problems arise. Lives are being taken because children are killing children with their words, texts and posts. We all know we need something bigger than a band aid. You can see that beginning with partnerships between social network, Facebook and cable TV. station Cartoon Network. Together they are marketing an app that is a pledge for students to take a stand against bullying.

Another discussion was in regards to educating students, parents and all school staff that interact with the students on ways to handle situations they are put in or put themselves into. A school staff member was coldly criticized for working with a child in a documentary...... She told the boy being bullied that he was just like the bully because he wouldn't accept the apology from him, but was she right? The AC360 panel was applauded; BUT 2 wrongs don't make a right. When teaching children to do what is right, we sometimes have to do what is hard and lay a foundation of how to move around in this world the moral way. An eye for an eye makes us both blind. Accepting an apology from an enemy (who may or may not be sincere) may be one of the hardest things we do in life. Leaving the ego behind is another.

Anyone knows that raising a child is another difficult thing to do in life. There are those children that conform, those that lead, those that follow and those that make their own way on a new path or a path that we don't approve of. It is our job as parents to know what is going on with our children, but if we don't know how to help them, than we fail. Why again don't we get an instruction manual when our children are born? Many of us choose to educate ourselves on how to raise a child, but even that isn't enough when we are faced with all of our struggles, our busyness, and a failing system.

We have the ability to help parents and children within the institution we know as school. But what we know and what we do aren't symbiotically functioning at the moment.....times are changing. Media is reaching out to make a difference instead to make just a story. They are becoming a vehicle of change. We all need to be the bridge that unifies the many worlds of our children.

Our country was built on faith in a higher power....we did separate church and state, but we should never have separated morals and values. We decided that it was someone else’s job to discipline their kids no matter what the situation.....but what about the quote, "It takes a village to raise a child." Obviously that had its origins in truth. We are so connected through this webby wire, but yet so disconnected from the human touch and truth. We think we can rationalize our way out of why we did something. We need to stop rationalizing and believe in the truth, live the truth, exemplify the truth and rebuild the truth in our human nature. We were all built to do good, but where does that change? If we can capture that window of opportunity and help teach children morals and values together, as a village, as a community, we will begin to see a new tomorrow. I have always been a firm believer in this philosophy, but we can't do it alone. If we all stand together as one, we will be the new world. We are the world. Look what happened to Michael Jackson. His pain was too strong for him to bear, but he had a vision. Let's build a vision and break the cycle. We only have each other, so let's stand up and work together to solve our countries problems.

This week, AC360 continues it's programming on bullying. Stay tuned and help break the cycle.

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