Elysian Charter School
A Positively Different Public School
October 10, 2017 Vol. 13 Issue 5
The school newsletter is sent out on Mondays. When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day.
From Education Week, Sept 6, 2016
Why Punishment Won't Stop a Bully
Punitive discipline for bullies can be counterproductive
By Alfie Kohn
Bullying at school has attracted an enormous amount of attention, spurring academic studies and popular books, regulations, and training sessions for educators. By now its status as a serious problem is widely acknowledged, as it should be. We can never go back to the days when bullying was regarded as a boys-will-be-boys rite of passage, something that victims were left to deal with (and suffer from) alone.
But as with other ills, both within and beyond our schools, some responses are much less constructive than others. The least thoughtful (or useful) strategy is to announce a "zero tolerance" stance on bullying. Either this phrase amounts to empty rhetoric—rather like responding to repeated instances of gun violence in our country by sending each cluster of victims our "thoughts and prayers"—or else it refers to a policy of harsh punishment for bullies.
The latter approach is worth our attention precisely because it comes so easily to us, complementing a punitive sensibility already well-established in our schools. Students who break the rules or otherwise displease us are subjected to suspension, expulsion, detention, enforced isolation ("time-out"), loss of opportunity to participate in enjoyable activities, and so on.
Making children suffer for what they've done is often defended on practical grounds, but I've been unable to find any evidence to support the claim that punishment makes schools safer or leads the children who have been punished to become more ethical or responsible. Indeed, punitive responses—even if they're euphemistically called "consequences"—are often not merely ineffective but actively counterproductive. To cite only one in a long line of empirical investigations, an eight-year longitudinal study published in 2005 found that punitive discipline was subsequently associated with more antisocial behavior, less prosocial behavior, and increased levels of anxiety.
Interestingly, when many proponents of traditional discipline are presented with such evidence, they simply pivot to a very different defense, one that can't be dislodged with evidence: They insist that if someone does something bad, something bad must be done to that person. He or she must be "held accountable"; a consequence must be imposed for moral reasons, even if there are no practical benefits.
But the effects of punishment do matter, and where bullying is concerned, they suggest a painful irony: Punishing kids who bully not only fails to address the source of the problem, but actually makes things worse. As educator and author Barbara Coloroso pointed out in her book The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander, punishment teaches the bully "to be more aggressive and hurtful. He will undoubtedly master the art of doing his bullying in ways that are sneaky or 'under the radar' of even the most observant and aware adults. More important," she adds, "punishment degrades, humiliates, and dehumanizes the children who are its objects. (Sounds like bullying to me.)"
Decades' worth of research shows that punishment—even when it doesn't include physical force—promotes aggression. But studies conducted in the United States and in Sweden revealed another layer to that reality: Bullies in particular are more likely to have been raised by authoritarian parents who rely on punishment. Dan Olweus, a leading authority on the subject, conducted the latter study. He, like other critics of punishment, has offered suggestions for what can curb bullying. The key is to "restructure the social environment"—the entire school culture—rather than trying to target individual students by encouraging intervention by bystanders, offering advice to potential victims, or, worst of all, punishing bullies.
"Punishment in general is likely a hidden contributor to bullying, both because of what it models and because of its effects on the students who are punished."
It's easy to assume that punitive discipline is an inevitable part of school life. That leaves us quibbling only about the details of implementation—for example, how severe the penalty should be for a given offense. Once we take a step back and consider whether punishment itself really makes sense, the status quo becomes very troubling indeed. Consider: A punishment is a response by someone with more power (say, an adult) to a prohibited action on the part of someone with less power (in this case, a child). Specifically, it consists of deliberately making the child suffer in some way. The intent may be to discourage the child from repeating the action, but the more common results of punishment are that the child (1) becomes angry and frustrated, (2) learns that you get your way in life by using your power over those who are weaker, and (3) becomes more focused on self-interest and less likely to consider how his actions affect others. Punishment induces kids to ask, "What do they, the people with the power, want me to do, and what's the consequence to me if I don't do it?"
From this perspective, it quickly becomes clear that the problem with school policy isn't just that punishing bullies inevitably backfires. Rather, punishment in general is likely a hidden contributor to bullying, both because of what it models and because of its effects on the students who are punished.
Dig even deeper, though: Maybe it's not just that punishment contributes to bullying. Maybe traditional discipline is a kind of bullying. That's the unsettling implication of Coloroso's parenthetical afterthought that I quoted above. Definitions of bullying tend to sound something like this: a hostile action—or a pattern of abuse, intimidation, or harassment over time—in which those who are smaller or weaker are victimized by those who are larger or stronger. That the larger, stronger people may have graduate degrees or can spin out elaborate rationalizations for their actions is really beside the point.
One barrier to acknowledging this, apart from our reluctance to admit the intrinsic unpleasantness of what we're doing and the harm it may be causing, is the way unquestioned assumptions are built into our use of language. For example, when we talk about kids, the word respect typically refers to something they owe us, not something they're owed by us. Likewise, bullying is a word we're accustomed to using only to describe something done by students.
Another barrier is the difficulty of shifting our level of analysis. Even if, recalling certain bosses or colleagues, we concede that adults, too, may be bullies, and even if we were open to the possibility that they might victimize children, too, it's much more disconcerting to consider that bullying isn't just done by individuals. Widely accepted practices and policies may amount to institutionalized bullying. Taking away recess, handing out zeroes, forcing children to stay after school, sending unpleasant reports home to parents, exiling students from the classroom (or school)—and threatening in advance to do these things to them if they fail to obey us—may not have been intended as bullying. But what matters, and what predicts the effects, is how these things appear to the people to whom they're done.
This shift in perspective should prompt us to transform schools from places of "doing to" students to places of "working with" students, to see kids' troubling actions not as infractions to be punished (where someone must be made to suffer), but as problems to be solved—and opportunities for teaching. If we need a simple reason to support these shifts, maybe it's sufficient that we want to make sure our actions never resemble those of a bully.
Alfie Kohn speaks widely on education and is the author of 14 books, including The Myth of the Spoiled Child, published this year in paperback by Beacon Press. His website is www.alfiekohn.org.
Campaign For Elysian – Wrap Up for Year 3!
It’s hard to believe, but the Campaign For Elysian, which launched during the 2014-15 school year when we were still downtown, has come to a close. Our original goal three-year goal was for $500,000, and due to the generosity of so many individuals and businesses, we were able to surpass our goal each year. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Year 1: Goal - $250,000; Funds raised: $266,971
Year 2: Goal - $125,000; Funds raised: $162,291
Year 3: Goal - $125,000; Funds raised: $148,328
TOTAL: GOAL - $500,000; FUNDS RAISED: $577,590
This seemed like an out-of-reach goal three years ago, but thanks to you, we did it! Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!
We’d also like to thank some recent donors for their support and generosity!
Vanderham and Tiller Families
Lexi Coen and Lisa Glaser
American Express (via Lindsay Loyd)
Ericsson (via Giles Alderson)
Goldman Sachs (via Eva Harag)
Goldman Sachs (via Patrick O'Callaghan)
VERY SPECIAL THANKS!
We’d like to extend a very special thanks to the Elysian Lemonade Stand Crew who went above and beyond, continuing throughout the summer to quench the thirst of many Hoboken citizens while helping to support Elysian. After several outings, they raised a total of (drumroll….) $530! We can’t be sure, but we think this might be the most ever raised by a Hoboken lemonade stand!
Our thanks to: Marissa Berkowitz, Evan Gizzi, Luke Glynn, Reese Glynn, Taylor Glynn, Adam Goodman, Micah Goodman, Talia Goodman, Anya Patel-Aranha, Gabriella Stanin and Victoria Stanin! (And appreciation to all the parents who helped out, especially the “Driving Force of Lemonade,” Anna Stanin!)
So how have these funds been used this past year? The largest expenditure is supplementing the ongoing increased utility and maintenance costs, but also, thanks to your generosity, new Chromebooks were purchased; moving costs for new cabinets were covered; and Elysian just installed a new public intercom system. This state of the art safety system, with panic buttons for staff to use around the school and automatic notification of the police in an emergency, was just installed and should be up and running very shortly.
Friends of Elysian Meeting
Wednesday, October 25 @ 5:45 pm
The Friends of Elysian, the school’s parent-led fundraising group, would like to invite you to a meeting and open house in two weeks, on Wednesday, October 25 @ 5:45 pm in the school building (room TBA). (If you can’t make it exactly at 5:45 PM, please still feel free to stop by a little later!)
We’ll be giving a quick recap of last year, discussing plans for this year as well as listening to your ideas and feedback. There are lots of different ways to get involved if you’re interested (beyond just the “asking for money” part). The Campaign for Elysian was a great success, but we need you (yes, YOU!) to help us set the next chapter.
At this annual meeting, we will also be confirming and adding new members and voting on our board and slate of officers. We will review these opportunities at the meeting, but if you think you might be interested in getting more involved and want to understand these roles before the meeting, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s important that the Friends represent the interests of the entire Elysian community, so we hope you can join us.
Everyone is welcome!
Please join Kelly Naughton, a professional yoga instructor and proud alumni Elysian parent, for a special yoga fundraiser!
WHEN: Saturday, October 14 @ 12 pm
WHERE: Under the 14th Street viaduct at Grand Street, in front of the movie theater.
COST: $25 each
* The yoga class will be suitable for beginners, and modifications will be provided for advanced beginners/intermediate yogi's.
* Please bring your own mat, a towel and dress in layers. If there are other items that accompany your yoga practice, please bring along as well (yoga blocks, blankets, eye pillow, etc).
Any questions, please email email@example.com
NOTE: This is a joint fundraiser for both Elysian and High Tech High School (where Kelly's son now attends). Proceeds raised via the Elysian community will go towards the Friends of Elysian.
Thank you for your support!
Did you know that
- Elysian Charter School opened in 5 rented classrooms inside the Wallace School?
- Elysian Charter School held classes at the Boys and Girls Club before Hola existed?
- Every summer Elysian Charter School had to engage in some sort of construction to make the classrooms at Rue accommodate our growing school and one year we opened in the gym before we could get the C of O?
- Elysian Charter School spent many years in Our Lady of Grace (with Mustard Seed) before using Demarest?
- After 20 years Elysian Charter School is settled into one building with a long term lease and can grow without having to worry about facilities??!!
*** Do you have ideas of how we can celebrate the last 20 years? Join the Elysian20 committee!! Contact Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes from the Nurse
Diane DeSombre, RN's email is email@example.com. Please contact her if your child is absent.
I would like to thank everyone for making our transition to a Nut Free School seem easy Once again the Elysian Community proved that We are All In!
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (and backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics) has come out with the following sleep guidelines for children:
- Infants 4 to 12 months - 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years - 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 3 to 5 years - 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 6 to 12 years - 9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Teens 13 to 18 years - 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
Fall Track Team
We will be contacting everyone shortly about the fall track team. There has been a staffing change. Stay tuned.
Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education
Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office! Thank you!
As per state law, we no longer publish the exact location of trips for security reasons.
Please read the calendar weekly, as changes are updated regularly
Thursday, October 12
- Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
- 3rd Grade Trip
- 5th Grade Trip
Friday, October 13
- Community Meeting, Gym, 8:45 AM to 10:00 AM
Wednesday, October 18
- 1/2 Day of School for Staff Development, 12:30 Dismissal. After School Program available as usual.
- Hoboken High School Q & A, 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Hillary's Room # 316
Thursday, October 19
- Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
Monday, October 23
- Board of Trustees Meeting, 7:00 PM
- 6th Grade Trip
Wednesday, October 25 through Friday, October 27
- 7th-8th Grade Overnight Trip
Wednesday, October 25
- Friends of Elysian Meeting, 5:45 PM, Room TBA
Thursday, October 26
- Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
Friday, October 27
- Elysian Halloween Party, Gym, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Monday, October 30
- High School Night for parents of students 6th, 7th, and 8th, 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 2
- Rugby Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
Friday, November 3
- Open House for Prospective Parents, 8:45 AM
Thursday, November 9
- 6th Grade Trip
- 8th Grade Trip
Friday, November 10
- Veterans Day, Elysian Closed
Monday, November 13 - Friday, November 17 Thursday, November 23 - Friday, November 24
- Thanksgiving Break, Elysian Closed
Monday, November 27
- Open House For Prospective Parents, 6:00 PM
- Board Meeting 7:00 PM
SAVE THE DATE - Mark Your Calendars
Saturday, December 16 is KUUMBA Day! More Info to Follow
1460 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director