Saturday, October 20, 2007

Teacher misconduct study

When I first started this blog I would mention the articles where teachers were arrested for various misdeeds. Some were serious. The incidents came in so regularly, that it almost wasn't news anymore and it was very disheartening to read about. I stopped mentioning them.

Public education systems have two main missions: educate the children, return them to their parents safely. Safety includes everything from the bus ride to and from, the condition of the building housing the activity and, of course, ensuring the staff are honorable and trustworthy.

Today the Las Vegas Sun is printing details of a recent Associated Press study on teacher misconduct along with some heartwrenching testimony of victims.

Snips follow:

The seven-month investigation found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct.

One report mandated by Congress estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of roughly 50 million in American schools, are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. That figure includes verbal harassment that's sexual in nature.
Like Lindsey, the perpetrators that the AP found are everyday educators - teachers, school psychologists, principals and superintendents among them. They're often popular and recognized for excellence and, in nearly nine out of 10 cases, they're male.
"Students must be protected from sexual predators and abuse, and teachers must be protected from false accusations," said NEA President Reg Weaver, who refused to be interviewed and instead released a two-paragraph statement.
I will never understand why the teacher unions (which insist they are 'professional organizations' and not unions) aren't on the forefront of cleaning the ranks. It'd be great if a TEA membership card meant the teacher was effective AND safe.


The AP investigation found efforts to stop individual offenders but, overall, a deeply entrenched resistance toward recognizing and fighting abuse. It starts in school hallways, where fellow teachers look away or feel powerless to help. School administrators make behind-the-scenes deals to avoid lawsuits and other trouble. And in state capitals and Congress, lawmakers shy from tough state punishments or any cohesive national policy for fear of disparaging a vital profession.

That only enables rogue teachers, and puts kids who aren't likely to be believed in a tough spot.

Too often, problem teachers are allowed to leave quietly. That can mean future abuse for another student and another school district.
I'd call this being an accessory to the crime.

A federal judge dismissed her civil suit against the school, saying administrators had no obligation to protect her from a predatory teacher since officials were unaware of the abuse, despite what the court called widespread "unsubstantiated rumors" in the school. The family is appealing.
This willingness to 'pass the trash' has got to stop. It's a form of abuse to not protect the next child. We've got to quit keeping these secrets.

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