There are some things better left unsaid, or so I have heard. Many conflicts of public education are on the news and discussed daily throughout our society. Everyone has seemed to come to the conclusion that our public education system has issues and needs reformed. With favoritism and politics in today’s high schools, many teachers and students are led to believe that they can do whatever they want without suffering any consequences. This attitude leads to the major issue of teacher-student sex scandals.
My senior year of high school, my school went under a private investigation. This investigation was put on by the school board and was meant to look into inappropriate teaher-student relationships. It all started when our middle-aged gym teacher received a naked picture of a student in the mail! He then innocently reported it. Everyone knew with the police now involved, they were going to start asking questions. After no leads to the naked picture scenario, they went on to investigate three specific teacher-student relationships.
One of these relationships involved a good friend of mine who was a varsity girl’s basketball player. We all had noticed that our friend and the substitute teacher/ assistant girl’s basketball coach would disappear into the girl’s basketball locker room. She had confirmed our suspicions weeks before the investigation even started. When it came time to be questioned by the principal about the situation, everyone became silent. The questioning however seemed to be less than satisfactory and it was obvious that the faculty knew the rumors were true but just did not want to get this new up and coming teacher in trouble. He had gone to the same high school and it seemed as if everyone turned the other cheek. He disappeared from the classroom for the rest of the school year right up until right before graduation and didn’t finish out the season as the girl’s assistant basketball coach. As soon as we graduated, my friend and the basketball coach became inseparable. He currently teaches at the same school and continues to hold the position as assistant girl’s basketball coach.
The other teacher-student relationship in question was between our history teacher and the homecoming queen. People began talking when everyone started to notice her in his classroom between class periods and before and after school. She also made it well-known that their relationship was friendly ( to say the least). As far as I know, no student was even questioned about this relationship and it blew over very quickly. It is easy to reason that it wasn’t brought up because of both of their high social standings. Their relationship fizzled out after we graduated and he went on to be promoted and became the middle school’s principal.
Lastly, a girl soccer player and special education teacher were in question. She was also my friend at the time. He was new to the county and did not have connections through the school faculty or school board. When it came to the investigation in their case however, they were both honest. They explained they had text messaged back and forth a few times but it had never gone beyond that. Because of this honesty, he was fired. The school deemed his behavior as unethical.
The examples I have given are just my own encounters of this problem. Teacher-student sex scandals happen all over the nation ( Jagodzinski). In fact, it has been continuing to happen for years. From my own experiences, it would be easy to blame this epidemic on male teachers not being able to control their own desires. However, this crime is not only committed commonly by male teachers but female ones also. One of the most well-known cases is Mary Kay Letourneau and Villi Faulaau ( Cavanagh 29). In this case, she reaped her 6th grade student, went to jail for seven years, and then married him upon her release (Cavanagh 32). The family of Mary Kay and Villi also begged the General Attorney’s office to allow then to deal with the matter within their own families ( Cavanagh 31).
Just because sex scandals are a rarely heard of issue in public education doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t as relevant as others . This issue leads back to trust in our public school system. Teachers make the sole decision as to how are kids are to be educated. Evaluating them as a teacher, always leads back to what type of relationship they have with the students. Thus, to truly evaluate a teacher and get to know them as a person and educator, it is a must to look at their relationships with students.
The first step to fixing this problem is being able to realize what we are doing wrong. We cannot go about things with such ease and we must make these issues public! Rape and sexual harassment is not okay. Some people such as Mary and Villi have argued that their love is true and they shouldn’t be punished for it (Jagodzinski). There have also been debates on legal age high school students and as to whether having relations with teachers should be illegal. Never the less we must remember that these high school students are still developing children and teacher-student relations are illegal in all fifty states. Making things disappear because it is the easy thing to do isn’t the right thing to do.
The next step is to come to an agreement on what is the line we must draw in teacher-student relationships. The law says that the minor is always innocent (Jagodzinski). Thus every teacher needs to realize they will be held accountable for their own actions!
Lastly, we all have to make an effort. It’s easy to cover the truth up to make people feel better. But in reality we must approach this as benefiting the greater good. One day we will have kids in high school. Do you want them to have sexual relations with their teachers?
Jagodzinski, Jan. “Is There an Ethics of Diabolical Evil? Sex Scandals, Family Romance, and Love In the School and Academy.” EBSCO. Springer, 2006. Web. 11 April 2011 http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=486860db-5649-48b6-b3da-9e84898749bd%40sessionmgr104&vid=5&hid=104.
Cavanagh, Shelia L. Sexing the Teacher. Canada: UBC Press, 2007. Print.