This past week, news broke that a teacher in a neighboring school district was arrested in connection with a theft investigation. It was believed he had stolen several electronic items from the school district. When police arrived to search his residence, the theft was confirmed. Several lap-tops and numerous pieces of lab equipment were located. Additionally, the police discovered a large marijuana grow-op.
As an educator, I was frustrated and furious to learn of his behavior. In addition to such feelings, I was deeply saddened for the students. They deserve a teacher who is honest and law-abiding. They deserve a teacher they can respect and admire. My heart was breaking for them.
I then grew further saddened, and shocked, when it appeared that some of the same students for whom I now held such great sympathy seemingly dismissed the whole situation. Living in a small town, any local news like this is bound to draw attention, and thus become a topic of discussion on social media. As I allow students to befriend me upon graduation via facebook, I was provided insight into their reactions, and the reactions of current students of the affected district.
The one status regarding this situation that received the most “likes” concluded that people shouldn’t be dissing on this teacher and we all need to “lighten up.” Lighten up? Lighten up? What fucking planet do these kids live on? It is not the same one I was raised in. I was raised to believe that teachers should be positive role models, inspirational leaders, and upstanding citizens – not individuals with prior convictions under their belt including domestic abuse and disorderly conduct. How was he even hired?
If I had learned this news of one of my teachers while I was in high school I would have been appalled, disgusted, and deeply disappointed. I certainly would not have declared, “So what? I’m sure tons of teachers smoke pot, and this poor asshole is getting all the blame.” This is an exact comment from a student’s facebook account. This poor asshole? They had sympathy for the guy? He had stolen from their district, been dishonest and deceitful and a potential danger to the students. Where was this coming from, and what student assumes that the majority of his or her teachers are getting high on the daily? Why do they think this is acceptable?
Maybe I’m a prude (albeit one with a potty mouth) and maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but I expect more from teachers and would never accept or excuse such behavior. I don’t know the true character of this man, and certainly we have all made mistakes in our pasts. However, once we become parents or professionals, or just grow the fuck up for fuck’s sake, there comes a time to put those foolish errors behind us and be the best person we can be. Therefore, I refuse to lighten up or excuse his behavior. Further, I place blame with the school board and administration who hired this man. We must expect more of our teachers and our administration. We should expect them to act always in the best interest of the students. What does it say about our standards when the affected students respond with a resounding “meh”? Would they respond the same if they yet believed that the district had their best interests in mind? Their response speaks to me of an ugly society that has repeatedly let them down, let them down so badly that they don’t believe they deserve better.
I, on the other hand, still believe they do. I remain firm in my resolve that we must demand more and make strong education a priority. I sure as hell hope I’m not alone in this, and I hold on to hope that other students, their parents, and the community at large will demand better instead of dismissing this situation.