Monday, April 23, 2007

No Prey in Public Schools

I may have mentioned before that I share a classroom- my desk is housed in a colleague's room and I have a cart that I wheel from room to room. I have a good working relationship with said colleague and am lucky to be able to remain in my room during my prep, and she does the same when I am teaching and it's her prep. It's not a big deal. The cool thing is that we each have gotten to know one another's students. Last year, I became rather fond of one of her seniors- a sweet, talented girl, T. Her projects were always the ones the teacher wanted to keep, because she put cute embellishing touches on everyting. She related well to adults, I think because she comes from a rough and tumble family- she lived with her grandma because neither of her parents is responsible enough to be a parent.

She graduated last year- her senior picture is still stuck to my colleague's filing cabinet, along with several others'. She has beautiful, long brown hair, sparkly brown eyes and a sprinkling of freckles. She was the kind of 18 year old that had no idea of how good she looked - or at least she seemed not to.

As charming a student as she was, I hadn't really thought much about her since last spring, when I wistfully hoped she would "do something with her life" and go off to college and pursue studies in whatever floats her boat. I didn't think of her until one of my current students mentioned her. And mentioned that she was 7 months pregnant. By one of the track coaches.

I don't like to promote any kind of idle gossip, but this sounded like it was actually true. I did my best not to gasp "NUH-UH! No he di-int!" I asked the girl perpetrating the story later if it was this particuar track coach- an assistant, who was employed soley as a coach and is not, nor has ever been a teacher in our district. She said yes, she thought it was.

I know this guy - have been in several social situations with him- he's in his mid/late 20's, a really nice, intelligent person. I couldn't believe that this was anything he'd be involved in. So, I asked the coach, who also happens to be a friend of mine, and he confirmed it. He kind of grinned at me sheepishly and said "well, she is 19. He's not that much older than she is. They are getting married. They are both very happy."

I don't care. I don't care if he's only a few years older. I don't care that she got pregnant a few months after he was her coach. I don't care that it's not so bad because he's not a teacher, he's a coach.

The fact of the matter is that we go to work with young people- as teachers, as coaches, as counselors- and we do so because we want to teach them, to impart some knowledge or skill. We do so because we enjoy working with young people. At no time should anyone look at these young people as dating material. As parents, we need to trust that our sons and daughters can go to school, go to camp, run track, play tennis, and not be preyed upon by those who are in leadership positions. Teenagers may look the part of adults, but inside, they are still kids. Children. Minors. People who need guidance and protection and for whom to set a good example. I don't care if it's the student who initiates it- and I know that is frequently the line of defense that is taken. It is the responsibility of the young teacher, coach, counselor, to take a step back and say "No."

A friend teaching in Chicago public schools told me it was fairly common - esp. for young male teachers (sorry-I'm just reporting, not trying to gender stereotype)to date their students. That's creepy. It just is.


Blogger Nic said...

I once, at a brunch or some other social thing where a bunch of women gathered, had a conversation about female students and male teachers. There were a lot of women there, and every single one knew or knew of a female student who'd had an affair with a teacher while they were still in school. It was sobering, to say the least.

I try to tell myself that since we talk about this stuff more now, that it happens less. I hope I'm right.

4/24/2007 7:57 AM  
Blogger Bellezza said...

Not to mention tragic...

4/24/2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

I agree with you completely. I don't send my daughter to school so creepy hard-up teachers can find someone to go out with.

4/24/2007 8:20 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

One of the wrestling coaches in my old high school (about 6 years older than me) started emailing my younger sister ALOT after she graduated from HS. (He would have been 16 years older than her!) Very creepy. Luckily, she didn't pay him any attention.

A male teacher was just arrested in a town near me for having an inappropriate relationship with a student. He was married, with a two year-old. He's going to prison now.

4/24/2007 11:04 PM  
Blogger parvenue writer said...

You are right on. It's creepy and scary. People forget that teens are not adults. Period. They are kids on the verge of adulthood. They are still learning and should be able to trust the adults around them not to treat them as prey.

4/25/2007 11:41 AM  
Blogger Adeline said...

I can't understand adults who would think this is ok. When one grows up, one has to act a little bit more than the way one did when one was younger. It is a chore, maybe but it is the right thing to do. I shrug. I dont want to pass judgement. I get squeamish around my older seniors who no longer look like boys but as handsome young men. I am a professional person. I want to be cordial but keep a good distance there. For many reasons, as you mentioned above.

4/26/2007 10:45 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

One of my high school classmates ended up marrying our government teacher about six years after we graduated (we'd all gone to college). We always thought she was a little too "special" to our teacher, and we guessed right. It still kind of creeps me out. Interestingly enough, she attends all the high school reunions, but he does not.

I find the whole idea creepy and disgusting, and unfortunately it's all over the news these days. I always used to wonder how anyone could do something that vile and inappropriate (not to mention that most middle schoolers are kind of gross to begin with) but we're seeing more and more stories of female techers sleeping with their students. And, sad to say, I've taught with a woman who's so messed up in her personal life I wouldn't be surprised at all if she's the next one on the front page of the paper.

4/28/2007 2:12 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Oh gob. The only appropriate answer is "Ew." And I gotta say also, "Men!" For every Mary Kate Laturno (or whatever her two-first-names name was) that we see on the news and in People Magazine and on the news and in Access Hollywood, I have no doubt there are HUNDREDS of male teachers doing the exact same thing. So it's like I said: "Ew."

4/30/2007 10:12 AM  
Blogger Polski3 said...

Teachers should not date their students. Period. We have had several incidents at our local high schools about teacher quit the district and married the girl, she being out of high school about six months. The marriage did not last.

4/30/2007 6:42 PM  

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