Teachers gone wild!

The media loves reporting on dangerous educators. But is abuse in the classroom really on the rise?

Topics: Broadsheet,

From Sex to Assault: What’s Up With America’s Teachers?” That’s the headline attached to what may be this week’s silliest faux trend piece. “Teachers this year have been accused of punching students and having sex with them, wrapping duct tape around their students and showing up drunk in the classroom,” according to ABC News reporter Sarah Netter. And while she (perhaps wisely) avoids making quantitative statements and seems allergic to statistics — there is not one number to support her claim — her underlying argument is clear: America’s teachers are out of control! Parents, hide your children!

Netter goes on to retell a series of increasingly shocking tales: A teacher is accused of kicking a 5-year-old girl in the face. Another sent a young student home with — get ready for this, it’s gross — a plastic bag full of his own feces. And, of course, there are the countless tales of those unbalanced teachers who have sex with their underage charges.

As anyone who follows news can tell you, the media loves to report on teachers gone bad — especially the ones who physically or sexually abuse their students. These stories are sensational, compelling and, most of all, horrifying. But it is a mistake to imagine that the actions of a few warped individuals have much to do with the teaching profession as a whole.

Netter’s main “expert” source seems to be Anthony David Adams, a blogger whose site, detentionslip.org, covers weird, wacky and controversial school stories. (He calls himself the “Perez Hilton for public education.”) His conclusion? Although there are a whole lot of great teachers out there, we can blame the bad ones on “an outdated public school system and low salaries.” He thinks that “school boards should be focusing on bringing in teachers who want to foster creativity and not settle for just teaching to the standardized testing that has become so prevalent.”

If we were talking about unqualified, negligent or otherwise incompetent teachers, Adams’ point would be well taken. But are we really supposed to believe that it’s a lack of creativity and an increased focus on high-stakes assessment that is leading (a few) teachers to hit or have sex with the kids in their classrooms?



Perhaps this why, when asked about this dubious trend, Francisco Negron, general counsel for the National School Board Association, gave Netter the only sane response possible: “There will always be the case, as in every part of society, where there are a few bad apples. Those bad apples are not representative of the profession as a whole.”

What is lamentable about Netter’s story, beyond the implication that legions of teachers all over the country have suddenly become sadists and libertines, is that, in its sensationalism, it glosses over the issues affecting most students’ public education. The American education system is deluged with real, widespread crises, from inequality to overcrowding to underfunding. The problems Adams raises, though only tangentially connected to the subject at hand, are dire. But if Netter chose to cover them, instead, would we still be reading?

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>