Note from an Irate Educator..Another Teacher Has Lost Her Mind
Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters
I am beyond pissed off. Yes, I said the “p-word.” I am sick and tired of sexually-charged, inappropriate, and morally duplicitous people using the guise as being a teacher to tickle their fancies while dating underage students. Last night as I was doing my nightly reading, I came across a story of a North Texas high school teacher arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with her 18 year- old male student. “Well, he’s 18 years old!” some of you may say. “He’s legal.” Um. NO. Not when it comes to teachers having sexual relationships with students—it’s against the law. There is such a notion of having a morality clause in your contract. Don’t believe me? Go to your school district’s human resources department. Sidenote: if you have never visited this department and checked your personnel file, you may be in for the surprise of your life. All kinds of interesting bits of information is tucked away that you may have forgotten about when you began your teaching career.
What is going on here!? Something in the water? Teachers gone wild? If you Google “Teachers having inappropriate relationships with their students,” I promise you will see so many stories pop up that it will have you sick to your stomach, and scratching your head in disbelief. Whatever happened to going to school to do your job—not your students? While most of us chose this noble profession to impart knowledge and share our strengths and talents with others while making our community a better place to be, it was NOT to use it as a mechanism for dating. Parents send their most precious gifts to us, trusting that while they are in our care we are protecting them. I am not a parent yet, but I cannot even imagine the horror of discovering such an atrocity. I am heated just thinking about it! Interestingly enough, if you poll the average male on this subject, there is an abject double standard. Male friends of mine have often said, “Oh, yeah. I had a crush on Miss So and So in school. She was SO fine! If she would have asked me, I would have totally done it!” or “What? A dude was dating his teacher in high school? Good for him!” As if there is some fraternal school rite of passage for getting it on (proverbially speaking) with a teacher.
Now here’s where some men flip the script: if the perpetrator happens to be a male teacher dating his female student, he’s a pedophile, a pervert, and he ought to be locked away forever. What’s going on here? Can we blame social media for facilitating some of these inappropriate relationships when it’s as easy as the click of a button to “Like” or “Friend” a student? How about Tweeting inappropriate pictures and messages to students? One female student shared that her relationship started on Facebook with her teacher because “He saw that I was a smart, unique, and goal-setting person.” Can you not find all of those qualities in someone closer to your age? Playing on the emotions of a not-quite-an adult, by using characteristically positive attributes in an adult-like, yet pervy way? To me this that also spells these additional five words– and let’s all say it together: LOSER!
It is our responsibility—ALL of us, to decry this rampant lapse of moral judgment that is making a mockery of all the hard working teachers who have apposite, respectful, school-supported relationships. The coaches who offer words of encouragement, the teachers who stay after school to tutor (doors open, witnesses nearby, of course)…those who serve as pseudo-parents, counselors, and nurturers of dreams and realities. None of us are completely infallible, but we owe it to our children to be honorable, wise, and modeling good choices that will follow us—and them, in life.
About Dr. Nicole:
Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters is a skilled educator with 15 years of professional experience holding teaching, administrative, consulting, and instructional design positions in school and non-profit organizations. Her public school career spanned 10 years as an early childhood and elementary educator in the Aldine Independent School District. In 2007, Dr. Walters founded an educational consulting company, The Early Initiatives Group, and co-created a nationally recognized model in teacher professional staff development with Houston A+ Challenge, (formerly the Houston Annenberg Challenge). She has also demonstrated expertise and success in performance excellence-based assessment, integration of school readiness indicators in charter and public schools, and non-profit board leadership development. Dr. Walters presently serves as the Regional Director for National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, San Francisco, and works as an affiliate faculty member at the University of St. Thomas in the Educational Leadership Program.
As a researcher and consultant, Dr. Walter’s varied research interests include quality practices in Educational and moral leadership, culture, language and cognition in urban school education and; teacher staff development. She teaches graduate courses in Educational Leadership, Cultural Foundations, Leadership Theories, and Clinical Supervision. Dr. Walters is also a blogger and co-creator of Education Made Visible, a web-based education news talk show. She recently joined Fox 26 News as an educational correspondent and expert.