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Petitioning Illinois State House

SPONSOR ANTI-BULLYING BILL PROTECTING TEACHERS FROM ABUSE BY ADMINISTRATORS

Dear Representative Lipinski,

I am reaching out to you because this issue is imperative, and one which is affecting teachers all over the world. It involves teacher bullying at the hands of some administrators/educators.

I would like to propose the idea of having an anti-bullying bill in place specifically for teachers. The bill would be in the name of an Illinois teacher who sacrificed her life to call attention to this shameful circumstance. Her name was Mary Eve Thorson and she committed suicide on Thanksgiving Day, 2011. She also left behind a detailed suicide letter which spoke to her great concern for her colleagues, the students who witnessed the abuse of their teachers on a daily basis, and the poor condition of the school.  An article was written about her death in the Chicago Tribune, on January 1st, 2012.

Teachers throughout the state of Illinois and around the country have reached out after learning of Mary’s death. They have confided in Mary’s parents, John and Shari Thorson, by sharing incidents of bullying they’d been subjected to within their respective institutions. A documentary based upon Mary’s story was requested by the SAVE OUR SCHOOLS organization for its conference in Washington, DC on August 3rd, 2012.  It is titled, DYING TO TEACH: The Killing of Mary Eve Thorson, "Educators Who Bully." This matter is no less serious than learning of children who commit suicide due to bullying by their classmates. Now, our teachers are in pain, in hiding, and in more desperate cases they are killing themselves. Mary Thorson also served her country and received a medal for building schools in Usulutan El Salvador.

"Teacher Bullying" is unique in that not only is the teacher harmed, but so too are the students subjected to watching the abuse unfold. Despite the bullying, teachers feel obligated to remain within the institution because they don’t want to lose their positions, and can’t fathom having to leave the children whom have come to depend upon them for emotional and academic nurturing. I implore you to speak with me regarding this shameful occurrence and grant abused teachers support by sponsoring this bill. I would be happy to supply a copy of the documentary if it would help you to make a decision. I wrote to Governor Pat Quinn regarding this matter, and he was kind enough to forward my message to the Illinois State Board of Education. I am including the response sent to me via email from Mr. Jeffrey Aronowski. It reads as follows:

Greetings:

Your communication (copied below) to the Governor’s Office of Citizen Action has been routed to our office for a response. Thank you for your contact.

Indeed, it is critical that both children and staff (teachers, administrators, educational support personnel, etc.) feel safe in the educational environment. Though much media and legislative attention has been devoted in recent years to addressing peer on peer bullying of students, as you note, similar legislation has not been enacted in the Illinois General Assembly for the bullying of teachers. As we cannot speak for legislators in their professional capacities, you may consider contacting your local legislator to discuss this issue. You may also consider contacting school districts, teacher unions, community organizations and other education-based labor stakeholders.

Again, we thank you for your concern and appreciate the efforts you have displayed in combating this important issue.

With Regards,
Division of Public School Recognition
Office of the General Counsel Illinois State Board of Education

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