Afternoon Rants, Rewind

I’ve got a sanitized version of my Elizabeth Wurtzel hate fest at HuffPo here. In case you missed it the first time around, it’s a re-tread of yesterday’s piece minus the F*ck yous.

And this is my column today, an expanded version of my similar blog post from a few days ago on the bus monitor lady, Karen Klein. Oh wait – hold on! – Is this “self-plagiarism”? I would link to that snide reference but then I would be dignifying the people who accused one of my favorite journalists of wrongdoing. This is what we public health people like to call a Type One/Type Two problem. Go ahead and give pulitzer prizes to hacks who wholesale invent lies but then nail somebody who’s copying a few paragraphs of his own prose!

Feeling really feisty and focused today. Thank you for the pharmacologic effect, Elizabeth Wurtzel. My prediction is that there will be a tiny little bit of buyers’ remorse for all those generous donors supporting Ms. Klein’s retirement. Just saying. Not that she wasn’t a victim but maybe we all over-reacted just a wee bit? Here goes, from

Karen Klein, bullied bus monitor (From

The nation’s hearts and wallets opened last week for Karen Klein, the bus monitor in upstate New York who was mercilessly taunted by a pack of feral-minded middle schoolers. But the gold rush of online donations (more than $600,000 and a free trip to Disneyland for 10 people) leaves a slag heap of questions. When we grow tired of the bus video heard ’round the world, we might start by asking, What is a bus monitor’s role exactly?

It’s not victim blaming to acknowledge that Klein was both horribly abused and also hired to prevent the kind of torment she endured. It’s therefore puzzling that neither she nor the bus driver — the adults on the bus — took any measures to prevent, stop or report the atrocious behavior. Did she ever receive any training in how to manage unruly or abusive kids? Why didn’t the bus driver chime in, or stop the bus immediately, and tell the kids to straighten up? The episode wouldn’t even have come to the attention of school administrators or parents if a student hadn’t filmed and posted it. This isn’t a chain of authority that inspires confidence…
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About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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3 Responses to Afternoon Rants, Rewind

  1. Jim Ambrose says:

    Anyone who rebukes children with more than the most tepid of responses these days is at risk of having their pants sued off, especially on a bus or on school property. It is my hunch that bus monitors are hired for liability purposes (another box checked), but they are probably discouraged from really doing anything forceful for the exact same reason. We can thank the personal injury attorneys for that.

    • Yes, it’s a toxic legalistic environment. I was told not to five year olds when I trained to be a teacher. And yet… I also suspect this woman was just burned out and no longer doing her job. Just my two cents. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Richard Hussar says:

    Good point Erika …. why wasn’t it reported and what was the bus driver doing. Having volunteered in SF schools I learned early on not to even touch a crying second grader. It’s a tough call but personally I would have smacked one of those disrespectful shits into next week. I only hope that Mrs. klien does some good with her new found funds …. Justified or not ….. Like sponsoring classes on bullying or just doing something good with it. Hope that viral U Tube vidio does not start a trend but I foresee more coming and the word would be SCAM!

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