07 October 2007

Did You Hear the One About...

...the teacher who posted semi-nude pictures of herself on her MySpace page...and has blogged about her prescription drug use and "wild" students? You can read more here about it.

As you might imagine, some parents are upset by this. What is interesting, however, is that school district officials are not.

"There's nothing to indicate she's done anything inappropriate with the students," said Knox County School Spokesman Russ Oakes.

Oaks goes on to say like everyone else, teachers have first amendment rights.

But a Tennessee law says they must display appropriate behavior.

At least one school board member says he is not objecting at this time.

"This would make me raise my eyebrows but not call police or freak out as a parent," said board member Indya Kincannon.

Teachers have long been held to the kinds of standards of behavior by the same parents who display a far lower level of moral terpitude. Considering this is a new story---does this somehow change the job the teacher has done with the kids since the start of the school year? If the pictures did not impact her work with students before---why should it now? How many of the parents with stones in their hands also thought she was doing a good job before this information was public? These parents are asking the school district to regulate what a teacher does outside of the workday...are the same parents willing to allow their employers the same rights, I wonder?

4 comments:

Roger Sweeny said...

Will any of her students see the pictures or read the stories? Will they take that knowledge into the classroom? Will it affect what and how much they learn?

If the answer to those questions is yes, then this isn't simply "what a teacher does outside the workday."

Perform this little experiment on yourself. How would you feel if the teacher had blogged about how stupid black people are and how "wild" her black students were?

Would you feel this is just "outside the classroom" and shouldn't affect her emplyoment prospects?

The Science Goddess said...

The difference with the "black" example is that there are likely anti-discrimination regulations set up within the school district (and state).

Private employers have much more leeway about what constitutes appropriate offsite conduct (as it applies to free speech) and what can then be considered in terms of employment.

I can think of several district employees here who have some major personal issues---alcoholism, family problems, and so on---but it is not up to the employer to monitor off-duty behavior unless it endangers children. As long as a child's safety is not at issue, there really isn't much that they can say or do.

Roger Sweeny said...

There are two separate questions here: what the district can do and what the district should be able to do.

Imagine that the racist teacher says, "Of course I know that black people are basically inferior. But I treat everyone the same in my classroom, in accordance with the law." Unless someone has been keeping a record of racist incidents from her classroom, she probably cannot be fired.

Do you think the law should be this way?

BTW: It's looking like the "partially nude" pictures are fairly tame:

"One photograph shows England shirtless, her left hand covering her right breast and her left breast is in the crook of her left elbow.

"Another picture shows her lying on her stomach, face down, wearing black panties. Her bare back is visible."

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/media/article2610139.ece

The Science Goddess said...

I do think the law should be that way---not because I believe that racism has a place, but rather to ensure that proof must be submitted to go along with any accusations.