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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Soccer Mom Conversation

So I'm sitting at my daughter's soccer practice last night (something I work hard not to do, but because there was a severe storm watch warning, something rare around here, I got nervous and sat there through the entire hour and a half practice while it stormed all around us but not actually on us, and I'm sure it would've stormed if I hadn't stayed so... back to what I was saying) and I found myself greatly amused as the one guy said, "Did you hear about the teacher that was turned in for prostitution?" And after everyone gasped and we were all chided for not watching the local news, he went on to say, "Yeah, I guess she has two kids and after she got divorced she couldn't pay some of her bills so she started selling herself. Her husband called the principal of the school and turned her in, and after she got turned in she turned around and exposed the principal for embezzlement."

There were a few more gasps and oos and ahs and a couple, "You never know what kind of people you have teaching your children." Then this other lady chimed in and said, "It's like that other story that came out a few years ago about the teacher that was a stripper. You remember that one don't you?" And everyone sat there with a blank look on their face until I finally joined the land of the soccer mom and said, "Yes, I remember, but the issue was she made a pornographic film, not a stripper. And the school was trying to decide whether or not the woman should keep her job and the parents were making a lot of noise about the bad example for the children." And then the lady got all excited and started pointing at me saying, "Yes! Yes! That's the one! When was that? That was a while ago, wasn't it?" So I told her that was back in 2006 or 7, and then more moms started shaking their heads saying, "See... you never know who's teaching your child."

The strangest part about it all was there seemed to be an awkward silence, as though some would've liked to get on some kind of ethical high horse, but no one dared because, well... probably none of us are what we seem to be on the outside anyway and what if someone there had been a stripper or a prostitute in their past or in their present?

Breaking that strange silence, the originator of the conversation finally said, "I guess they should just refer back to their teaching record. I mean... if they are still good teachers and your children are learning, that should count for something, shouldn't it?" Unfortunately for him, he said that to a group of women who all happen to be mothers of daughters. Actions speak louder than words, and well... "my teacher is a porn star/prostitute" perhaps adds a little validation to something that no mother with dreams of her daughter getting a full ride scholarship to college gets excited about.

Obviously, his comment fell on nothing but more silence. Knowing that I used to be a teacher he looked to me for some back up, so after a few moments of his stare I finally said, "You have a point but the problem lies in the expectation that teachers do more than teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They are expected, during the eight hours a day they are with your child, to help guide them on a path toward positive social existence. Teachers stop fights on the playground and when disciplining the child they are to discuss the difference between right and wrong. Teachers are to guide the child in academic honesty, no cheating and such, and instill a sense of self-worth and pride when the child performs well in these areas. They are to help children learn to communicate and maneuver through some of the more difficult things they do and will continue to experience in their daily lives, both in and out of the school arena. They are also defenders of the child's well being, keeping a watchful eye on behavior patterns that may indicate disorder or abuse and take the necessary steps to help the child out of that situation. This in mind, a teacher is a mentor of sorts. And how good of a mentor can the teacher be if he or she is caught in their own negative life pattern, be it prostitution or embezzlement?"

They all kind of nodded as I said that, but no one seemed too excited to chip in. So in a sort of conclusion I finally said, "Both of those teachers may have been excellent academically speaking, and I always felt a little bad for the porn actress teacher because it was my understanding that it was something she had done in the past, not something she was actively involved in. She had made a film sometime in college for a few extra dollars or something and it came back to haunt her and destroyed her career. That always seemed like an injustice of some kind. People make bad calls in their lives, particularly when they're young and stupid going through college, but people also change and work to improve themselves and well... that woman will probably never teach again and the public exposure of her past will probably leave a mark on her for years to come. But the woman who's prostituting herself? As a single parent I can say that the reason I left teaching was because I could've never raised Hope comfortably on that salary, and it was a struggle to get myself out of academics and into the corporate world, but stripping or prostitution never popped into my mind as a viable option. As a parent, prostituting herself while housing and raising two children is a problem all its own. And I'm sure we all agree, despite anyone's stance on prostitution theoretically, it isn't exactly a positive environment for the self, let alone for the children. And maybe, if the system would pay their teachers more, we wouldn't have people making decisions like that, who knows... I am amused though that she turned in the principal for embezzlement. The old, 'if I'm going down you're going down with me.'" And then they all kind of chuckled at my last comment and we all just sat there and stared out at the girls working hard on their soccer drills.

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