EbonyBullying is a huge problem in our schools today. When a student is being bullied we, as teachers, encourage students to tell a trusted adult and it will be handled from there. In a perfect world, the responsible party would intervene, an agreement would be reached, and appropriate consequences will be issued.

But what if the bullied individual is not a student? What if the bully is someone with power over the person being bullied?  What if the two individuals in this toxic relationship were teacher (bullied) and principal (bully)? This is not an imagined scenario, but it actually happened to Ebony Murphy-Root, a teacher from Hartford, Connecticut.

To the general public, Ebony Murphy-Root should have been ecstatic to be working at Capital Prep. After all, urban children receive an education that is on the same level as more affluent counterparts. This school has a 100% acceptance rate to four- year colleges. Who wouldn’t want to work in an environment like that?  According to Murphy-Root, what you see is not what you get.

I spoke with Murphy-Root as she drove home to Hartford from New York, where she currently teaches. I asked about her long commute to work and she told me that she had been basically black-balled in Hartford because she spoke out against Perry. After one year at Capital Prep, she was informed that she would not be reelected, but if she resigned there would be no employment repercussions.  That was not the case. She could not get employment in Hartford because of information about her resignation placed in her personnel file during her tenure at Capital Prep.

I wondered, after reading Murphy-Root’s article on another education blog, if she was a teacher scorned. After speaking with her on the phone, I determined that bitterness was not the case. Murphy-Root was not a scorned teacher; she was a concerned teacher who was concerned about, not just her students, but all students. During our conversation, Murphy-Root talked about her concerns with school and administrative actions as well as student language. There was a feeling of hurt as she spoke of the lack of administrative presence and scruples. She was concerned about the termination of a co-worker who refused to give daily homework assignments to three and four year old students. There was adult behavior and adult activities discussed freely by students. Those same students used inappropriate language in the school environment without consequence.

Speaking as someone who was familiar with Dr. Steve Perry and his educational philosophy, I was suspicious of his statements that the problems in education are the teachers.  I learned from Murphy-Root that my suspicions of Perry were based in truth. Perry has no background in education; he has a background in Social Work. As I read her article on the education blog, several videos were placed in the comment section. Those videos showed teachers, parents, and elementary students who were vehemently against their school being taken over by Capital Prep.

 As I read and researched Capital Prep one image came to mind – the education mafia.  Thanks to our educational Elliot Ness, Ebony Murphy-Root, the likes of educational Al Capone, Steve Perry, will soon be taken down.

Ebony Murphy-Root is a humanities teacher on the middle school faculty of a progressive school on the Upper West Side in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @therealmsmurphy.

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