I visited a class in another school district last school year and observed the teacher being verbally abusive to a student. Based on my conversations with her, the teacher struck me as having a mental illness. She teaches a lower elementary school grade, and her views of the kids were strange. She saw some as angels, and others as manipulative, cunning, trying to control her, etc. She was cruel to one little girl that she felt this way about. She yelled at her and got this kid into a state of shock. The teacher told me that you have to "break" some kids and" make them cry," she said this is the only way to get them to behave. The teacher is friends with the principal, so I knew talking to the principal wouldn't help. I spoke to another teacher who had been teaching for 30 years, and she told me that I can't do anything about this because the teacher has tenure. I am no longer able to be in this classroom. I was not expecting to see abuse so I didn't record it.
This teacher is nice to many of the kids and they like her. Many of the parents like her. I know that she will continue to find a scapegoat in her class every year (she told me how a child from last year 'hates' her, and I observed this kid go out of his way to avoid her). I don't know what to do. It is bizarre that in a profession where an adult has power over a group of children, there is such a thing as tenure. It should be easy to get rid of an abusive teacher because the psychologically well-being of children is at stake. Instead we adults tolerate a system where it is extremely difficult to remove an adult who is hurting children. That's wrong.