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School Life: Petty Tyrants & Their Mini Feifdoms

image from www.thisamericanlife.org

There's nothing "petty" about a tyrant if you're the one being intimidated, as you'll see when you listen to the story of Steve Raucci, the tyrannical maintenance head in a New York district who's the subject of a recent profile on This American Life.  He was a mean-spirited joker, a mischief maker, all-around jerk (though sweetly obsessed with soap opera actress Susan Lucci).  And -- as many schoolpeople know -- not the only example of petty tyranny that's ever been seen in a school or district office.  Bob Sutton has more about him here, including the wrap-up on how Raucci ended up in this mug shot.  Thanks to LF.  Who's the worst petty tyrant you've ever encountered?

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I hate to say it but teachers can slip into petty tyranny, nothing on the scale of Mr. Raucci, but still a burden for their chosen targets. My worst was an 8th grade science teacher, Mrs. Brown. I can't even remember how the conflict started, but somehow she decided I needed to be put in my place and spent several months trying to do just that. Zeros for homework assignments she claimed I'd never turned in, detention for arbitrary offenses, extra writing assignments for me alone. It ended up with my parents in the principal's office after Ms. Brown tried to prevent me from joining the Math Olympiad team. I was transferred to another teacher's class and we avoided each other in the halls after that. Thank goodness for parents.

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