Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Socratic Perspective on Ethics in Education

My old school district was recently rocked by scandal. It seems there was some infidelity among teachers and administration.

Colfax, California, might be small, but allegations of affairs should not have been plastered all over the papers. Careers were ruined and marriages ended.

These were people I went to high school with. Instead of moving to bigger cities to become business reps or doctors, they got their credentials and returned to their communities.

They've gone to every Falcons football game, twenty years running. In their classes are their own teachers' grandkids. They've bought houses by their old bus stops.

If these were not teachers, though, would their private lives have mattered? Would they have been publicized?

If these were insurance agents, or nurses, or lawyers, would anyone care about the "news?"

It's been my experience that for some reason, teachers are held to the highest moral standard.

Why is that?

Is it not enough that educators sacrifice salary to care for kids and nudge them toward the benchmarks?

After five or six years of college, with graduate degrees, teachers begin working for maybe forty grand. They'll top out at sixty after thirty years of collecting homework, grading essays, and chaperoning dances.

And they are never to be seen in a bar, or on a date, or getting a speeding ticket. If they cross a moral line? Devastation.

In essence, society is expecting a highly educated yet severely underpaid population to provide an ethical example.

Is that fair?


Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, Jennie, you are so right! My husband and I were having this conversation recently. There are members of our own family objecting to teachers in our small town getting a 2% raise, which won't even cover cost of living increases.

What a teacher gets paid, where a teacher shops or eats or vacations - and with whom - are all open to public scrutiny. It doesn't always seem fair. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher too, but I totally agree with you.

Jennie Englund said...

Wish I could've been a fly on the wall to hear that conversation.

At least if we're not persuading anyone else, we're winning over our husbands...

Anonymous said...

The Auburn Journal's editor is responsible for the stories his papers print and when they ran that story I lost what little respect I had left for that rag. From what I could tell, the Colfax community generally felt the story was in poor taste.
I agree teachers seem to be held to higher moral standards, sometimes unfairly. But it's also true that former students generally never forget many of their teachers because of the positive impact teachers make upon their pupils. For the record, my Kindergarten teacher was Sister Mary Donelle in 1953.