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Something’s wrong when a teacher is fired for standing up to bullies

Do you want to live in a world where teachers’ jobs are threatened for standing up to bullies? I know I don’t, but after reading about 24-year teaching veteran Pam Aister’s termination for breaking up a racial bullying incident, I don’t think I have a choice.

Arizona elementary school teacher Aister, with more than two decades of service under her belt, was told that she acted inappropriately after trying to stop blatant bullying on the playground. The school board voted to fire the teacher 4-1 after multiple parents complained about Aister’s response to racial bullying.

From Aister’s point of view, she was only trying to protect her young student who had been singled out by five boys. The African-American student was targeted with racial slurs, including the n-word and “coon.” Aister stepped up to defend him by allegedly telling the bullies to “shut up.” Aister was accused of taunting one of the aggressors back by saying that she heard he had an “ugly face,” which the teacher denies.

Aister was quoted by ABC15 as telling the students, “If you pick on him, you’re picking on me.”

This is a 9-year-old we’re talking about here. Jennifer Gillis says her son Malachi, 9, was being bullied at school, and no one was doing anything about it. Both mother and son asked the principal, teachers and a playground monitor for help. Malachi said that he was ignored or the bullies were given a warning. Malachi even switched classes to cope with the taunts, but the bullying did not cease.

While Aister’s actions may not have been perfect if allegations are true, her heart was in exactly the right place. If this teacher had turned a blind eye to bullying, you know we would have still heard about it. Five boys ganging up on one boy and taunting with racial slurs — in many cases, bullying like this is a breeding ground for violence and suicide. Bullying left unchecked leaves the victim trapped and alone for years.

Aister saw a serious problem on the playground with her student, and she was apparently the only school staff member to do something about it. Aister believes her termination was the result of bullies who went home and complained to their parents after being reprimanded.

The fact that Aister was fired for standing up for a vulnerable child is disheartening, but now we know what we have always suspected: Bullies raise bullies. Parents don’t want to admit that their child is a bully, so they fire the teacher instead.

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