Campbell Brown makes me sick. Her method, picking out a few stories and tarring all of us with them, is simply reprehensible. Doubtless she'll be out today with some story saying the allegations against the Brooklyn Tech teacher mean none of us should ever get tenure again. That's a preposterous argument.
In fact, the accused teacher is in police custody, enjoying the hospitality of the state while he awaits trial. There's no one bickering over whether or not this man ought to be placed in a classroom tomorrow. I'd argue that anyone who sleeps with students has fundamentally broken the trust we place in them as teachers. There's simply no defense for such actions. People who do things like that belong in prison.
Nonetheless, in the United States of America, people charged with crimes are entitled to trials. They're entitled to defend themselves against those who charge them, and face their accusers. That's a necessary step, because sometimes their accusers are incorrect. If that's the case, they ought to be able to prove it.
It's the American way.
It ought to also be the American way that we refrain from firing people without cause. Teachers have been fired for their political beliefs, their sexual orientation, and even the offense of getting pregnant. Were it not for tenure, such things would be happening right now. I've no doubt Campbell Brown and whoever finances her would jump for joy. The history of countries that have targeted teachers is not a particularly proud one.
It's certainly true a lot of Americans are "at will" employees, and can be fired for a bad haircut. People will ask why teachers need special privileges. I'd argue that we shouldn't have special privileges, but rather everyone should have some degree of due process. I'd also argue that it behooves us, as role models, to speak the truth and act in our students' best interests. To do that, we have to challenge a lot of the mythology that passes for educational philosophy.
We're living in interesting times, where hedge funders exploit the system, corporations often pay no taxes, and teachers are public enemy number one. Only in a system like this could a parasite like Campbell Brown thrive. If we really do bad things, there ought to be consequences. But they ought not to be meted out by our accusers, as Brown seeks. If we break the law, we ought to face the consequences there too. But even teachers are entitled to a trial.
Regardless, painting all teachers by the actions of one, or a few, is not only absurd, but also unforgivable and downright bigoted.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.