First question: how do two 3rd graders have “oral sex”?
Since the details of what actually took place under that desk have, understandably, not been released, the only things we have to go on are sensationalized news headlines. Children that age usually do not have a concept of “sex”, let alone “oral sex”. They might explore, play doctor and do things that adults consider “inappropriate”. However, whatever is done is done out of curiosity and sheer obliviousness to what we adults consider right and wrong.
Therefore, there should be a great deal of thought before what happened under that desk is construed as “oral sex”. That term connotes a certain intentionality that 3rd graders just do not have.
Second question: why is the teacher on the hook for this?
According to Lisa Wilmore, Superintendent of Madison Parish School District, “We have to make sure we have people in these classrooms who are monitoring our students”. Fair enough. Two 3rd graders are under a desk doing God knows what. What was the context? Notwithstanding all of the issues around calling what 3rd graders do “oral sex”, how many children were in that classroom? What kind of activity was the class doing? Was it a lecture, group work or some sort of individualized instruction? How many years was this teacher on the job? How much training and support did this teacher get from her administrators?
Most importantly, how is firing this teacher going to ensure that people are in the classrooms properly monitoring students, as this superintendent claims is her goal?
Third question: this is what happens in “right to work states”.
I know this is not a question. Louisiana is a “right to work” state, meaning that employers can hire and fire anyone at will, including public employees, without due process or even a reason. This story is really about one thing, and that is a grandstanding superintendent. Lisa Wilmore is trying to win political points by looking like she is cracking down on incompetent teachers, a very popular thing to do in this day and age.
This is yet another argument in favor of teacher “tenure”. For the millionth and one time, “tenure” does not mean a guaranteed job for life. Tenure is merely a civil service protection to ensure that, if a teacher does get fired, it is for a legitimate reason. These protections ensure that teachers can act as advocates for children without fearing retaliation. They also prevent the teaching profession from becoming a patronage position, a supply of jobs that exist to reward supporters, relatives and other political lickspittles. Lastly, as we see from this story, tenure protects teachers from superintendents and municipal leaders who want to score cheap political points by looking all tough. It would have prevented this teacher from Lisa Wilmore’s meat axe.
Tenure does not exist in “right to work” states and it has been eroded away in every other state. Yet, teachers are expected to ensure student success, supervise the actions of every student in oversized classrooms, notice signs of abuse, provide a nurturing environment, be a shoulder to cry on and essentially play the role of parent, counselor and disciplinarian. All of this while we get bashed in the media, work under outdated contracts and generally are expected to do more with fewer resources.
At the very least, some sort of tenure process in this case of “oral sex” would have generated discussion over the legitimacy of calling anything 8-year-olds do by such a term. Decency and accuracy in the media are sacrificed for the sake of running a salacious headline. They know it works. This is the same media that professed outrage over Bill Clinton’s affair while at the same time providing every last detail. People got on their Puritanical high horses after reading each sordid fact in rapt attention.
If, in fact, two 3rd graders were having “oral sex” under a classroom table, with all of the intentionality that this term connotes, how is the blame not squarely on the shoulders of the parents of these children? What is going on in these children’s homes that they know of such things? How are their parents being held accountable in any way?
When we grow up as a nation, we might actually see that teachers can only work with the children who sit in front of them. Those children are raised not only by their parents, but the communities in which they live and the media to which they are exposed. With headlines like these, is it any wonder that 8-year-olds are doing what they claim they are doing?
Before getting self-righteous over “incompetent” teachers, remember the words from scripture:
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”