Not All Guilty

It’s June and for teachers, like myself, it is a month of anticipation. A school year is winding down and soon the summer and its freedom will be upon us. I take stock at this time of year as I am sure many others in the teaching profession do. Did my students learn what I wanted them to? Was I as affective as I could have been?  What can I do to make next year more effective?  It is my goal to continually get better and one of the ways that happens is introspection. I believe this is true of many teachers. In fact, my experience has shown me that the majority of teachers are hard working, responsible, and dedicated professionals who care about their students and want the best for them.

As a New York City school teacher (I work in the East New York section of Brooklyn), I am particularly aware of teachers in the news. Unfortunately, lately it’s been all bad.  There have been multiple reports of relations between teachers and students. Of course this is wrong in every way and if found guilty, the teachers should be punished to the full measure of the law. They have violated the public trust. We are responsible for our students – not only to teach them but to be a role model for them as well.

These incidents and their constant reporting in the newspapers are demoralizing.  Am I the only one who thinks if these are being reported then how many more incidents are going on that we don’t even know about?  I doubt it.  Due to this cloak of suspicion and doubt, it’s as if each of us in the profession must prove that we are not guilty.

I don’t know all the specifics of these cases as I shy away from reading all the gory details. However, I do know that one of the teachers was reassigned after a picture of her kissing a student appeared on the front page of the newspaper. The student is 18 so apparently it is ‘okay,’ and she will retain her job.  Yes, the union is responsible to us, its members, and everyone deserves a trial.  However, when they try to defend the indefensible, it pisses me off.  My teacher hat comes off and my parent hat goes on. What if it were my child that was involved in such a case? Even worse what if the predator teacher got involved with my child after already being involved in another case but instead of losing their job, they were retained due to some technicality? I can’t even imagine how angry I would be.

There are many problems with the education system in America, and changes are overdue.  The problems come from a variety of sources and anyone who has thought about the problem and is honest with him/herself can recognize this issue. One problem that must be dealt with right away is the removal of teachers who act immorally and compromise themselves as professionals and harm children.   While I take this summer as a time to refresh and prepare for a successful school year in 2012-13, I want to focus on preparing myself and not defending myself.