First, thanks one and all who chimed in, even if I don't agree with your suggestion I do appreciate them and it dos help me temper my reaction, just because I'm always right doesn't mean I don't recognize that others can be right too ;)
So this morning was a doozy of a morning with many typical crappy things ...daughter's glasses missing, can't find my bra..dogs chewing/throwing up things...you know, a regular day in Casa de Cheerful.
We were halfway to school (and no time to spare) and Little Cheerful declared "I totally forgot my letter to the teacher", the letter I'd asked her to put in her bag last night. Grrr!
So it was decided that she would talk to her teacher when we got to school, alone and she did. She said her part about feeling it was punishing those who were bullied by mean notes and how she saw this as unfair. he declared it was fair since everyone is being punished. At that point my daughter decided to go along to get along and accepted the punishment and asked me to not intervene further today. When I asked her why she said she saw that her teacher would not waiver and she felt that it would just be pointless to try and also that my involvement might embarrass her since no one else was speaking up to the teacher.
At this point the other girl who got a note asked my daughter if they were still going to be benched and then she said "I think it's unfair, but I'm bullied a lot so I'm used to it". My heart sinks to hear that, this girl is bullied a lot, all the parents know this and she seems resigned to a fate of being punished alongside her bullies. It is also clear to me that she also sees the reaction to the notes as unfair but choose not to speak up to the teacher about her feelings. I don't think the teacher intends to shut down communication, but it does seem to be a result.
I told the girl I had been bullied at this very school and that it gets better, she smiled and looked so grateful to hear my words.
I spoke to two mothers after the event and both were aware and upset but both also felt that talking to this teacher would result in nothing more than an explanation of his view about how "fair" the action is and so they too said nothing.
I agree that speaking to this teacher alone will likely result in him reframing his same declaration about fairness etc so I didn't waste my breath and my daughter had asked me not to, basically. It doesn't feel right that I said nothing.
I think I will see how my daughter feels after school and I am hoping she will want to take a more global view on the bullying and perhaps form a club to help kids deal with bullying and to help promote a culture where bullying is not acceptable. The students are not currently actively involved in the anti-bullying campaign at the school and I think that this passive approach leads to kids not feeling like they have any ownership over the issue so they are not invested and instead wait to be told how to react and how to act.
Obviously social justice on the micro and the macro level is important to me.