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Because good teachers can be bad people

By   /   November 5, 2012  /   Comments

News broke late last week that a former teacher of the year had been arrested for child molestation. This came just days after the Dougherty County Board of Education voted to reinstate a teacher who had slapped a student. The reason? Well, she was apparently a pretty good teacher.

I condemned the decision in my column, and comments claimed that good teachers are hard to find. I certainly understand that. As a father, I have seen a few, and I’ve seen more than my share of bad teachers. Good teachers certainly are hard to find.

However, a teacher being “teacher of the year” indicates they are one of the good teachers. Being arrested for child molestation? If convicted, it just proves that being good at your job – even if it’s educating children – does not make you some wonderful example of humanity.

I doubt that this incident, even after a conviction, will serve as any kind of warning to anyone who thinks it’s appropriate to reinstate a teacher who slapped a child, but it should. It should make them question teachers who are showing themselves to not be the kinds of role models that I want around my kids.

Now, this should not be read as an attack on educators in general. I have my issues with our educational system, but few of them target the fine people out there who chose to make less money by educating our kids. I have issues with specific teachers and the powers that allow those bad apples to remain employed, thus enabling these people to tarnish the rest of you with their actions.

It is up to all of us, educators and private citizens alike, to demand that the school board make those bad apples accountable. Teachers, it isn’t about an attack against you or your job security. This is about keeping the honor of your profession at a high level.

Teachers are people. They have flaws, just like all of us. In some cases, those flaws have catastrophic consequences. Maybe it’s slapping a student. Maybe it’s doing something worse. However, just doing your job well most of the time should not be a pass for when your flaws rear their ugly head and those catastrophic consequences blast some poor kid’s life to shreds.

Instead, they need to be removed. We have heard from some that good teachers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. I know enough teachers outside of my child’s education that I can’t help but agree on some level. However, there is a flip side to that argument, and that is those who don’t do what’s right need to be hammered by the fiery hand of righteousness.

So far, we see that the only way to do that is through criminal charges that take the matter completely out of the hands of the board of education. So maybe that’s a the way to clean up Albany.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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