Cruel power games remembered
By E. B., June 16, 2000
When I was a senior in a Georgia high school, I eagerly anticipated winning the National Merit Scholarship for weeks. It was worth over $20,000 and would mean the only way I could attend college. My best friend was up for it as well. One day, we were both called to the office. We waited outside the "guidance" counselor's office for the news. We listened to the horrible smacks of a wooden board and we knew she was serving in her role as school assaulter. The door opened and one of our homeroom classmates walked out, crying, ashamed of her tears, and obviously very angry. She too was 17 years old and about to graduate. She pushed by us.

We waited for the counselor to come out. She greeted us sadly and said, "I'm so sorry sweeties, you both didn't make it. I'm so sorry," and she stood there while my dear friend Ann started to cry. I was bewildered. I just knew I had to have this scholarship! I could feel my dreams collapsing.

Then the counselor got a big grin on her face and said "I was just kidding you! Of course you got it! Give me a big hug now!" and she held her arms out to us. Ann was ecstatic, but I felt like I was hugging a ball of slime. She completely ruined my good news.

It was not until I came across your Web site that I could finally make the connection. This woman enjoyed her twisted power over the "children", who were really adults, in her care. She could strike a woman with a piece of wood, then make another one cry... and this made her day complete. Several years later she made vice principal, and she is probably principal today, but I am afraid to find out. As a mother who is about to get her Ph.D. (nuclear physics), I believe success is the best revenge. I do not strike my daughter, and I will never send her to a school where it is practiced. I tell everyone this that I can.

You may use this story but not my name, as my mother still teaches in that small town and it could get her fired. Please send the booklet to me so I can give it to her.

. . . Yet such is the temper and moral culture of teachers themselves that it is exceedingly unsafe to leave too wide a discretion in their hands. The nature even of instructors of youth is fallible, and there is a kind of intoxication in the exercise of unlimited power, though it be only over little boys and girls, that it may wisely be checked and controlled.

Excerpt from an editorial, The New York Times, January 22, 1871

See Criticism of E.B.'s letter and Riak's response to the critic, June 27, 2000.
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