A few months ago, I wrote a series of letters to school districts and universities in my immediate vicinity, informing them of my goals as a public speaker (and author), as well as offering to come speak to faculties, administrators, or future teachers in college regarding the issue of unlawful teacher/student relationships. Two colleges replied, neither of which followed-through. Not a single school district replied. Every single school district ignored my letter, including the Kansas City Public Schools in Kansas City, Missouri.
I’m not surprised. In fact, a surprise would have been to get a response — but I knew I had to try. My perspective — my vision for the solution to this problem — is not welcomed by the vast majority of the educational community. In fact, I have been mocked by the general public for trying to be a part of the solution, being compared to the likes of OJ Simpson and Bill Cosby. So it’s not surprising that my outside-the-box thinking isn’t welcome by people with the ability to affect change because it’s easier to mock, make jokes, and ignore a problem than it is to admit a problem exists and attempt to solve it.
As I wrote recently, addressing this problem means admitting a problem exists. A teacher in Arkansas City, Kansas proved my point a few weeks ago, but unfortunately I didn’t include the Ark City School District in my first series of letters. However, yesterday, the Kansas City, Missouri School District proved my point as well.
In a situation like this, it gives me absolutely no satisfaction to be proven right. But what if that teacher sat in an in-service where I spoke, and what if it would have made a difference? And what would that difference have been? Well, perhaps a student would not have been harmed, a teacher would still have a career, and a school district would not be dealing with the humiliation of another sex scandal. Granted, is it a guarantee? Of course not.
But here’s the thing: Doing nothing is no longer an option!
As it stands now, unlawful teacher/student relationships are being treated by school districts like they are merely “the cost of doing business;” an unfortunate byproduct which must be endured rather than addressed.
I asked a friend of mine if my previous article, “Rejection,” sounded like I was complaining or bitching about having another speaking engagement cancelled. And her response was, “No, it sounded like you were calling them out!”
Maybe I’ve been too polite about this. Maybe I need to be more of an activist, even in the face of people hating me for what I’ve done and hating me for what I’m doing (even though one is the antithesis of the other).
I firmly believe in the principle that when a person sees something wrong and has the ability to set it right, it is their moral responsibility to do so.
Nearly a decade ago, I contributed to this problem. Today, I am trying to fix it. I have a vision for this solution which people outside of the educational community see as vital, but those who actually have the ability to put it into practice want nothing to do with it. They are afraid to address the solution because they must first admit a problem exists; and this is cowardly at-best.
I wish these school districts would stop proving me right by doing nothing as teacher after teacher is arrested for another teacher/student relationship. I don’t want to be right; I want to be proactive — because no one else seems to be leading the charge.
It has become a significant part of my life now to “do the next right thing” as I proceed through the remainder of my existence. Frankly, I spent too many years living horribly, so hopefully, by the time I breathe my final breath, I will have balanced things out. But until then, I will continue to push forward with my own vision of how this problem can be proactively addressed. Because, clearly, the actions (and inaction) currently being taken by school districts and universities have been futile.
The educational community can no longer afford to pretend this problem does not exist, and something new and radical must be done to protect students.
This is my vision; this is my mission. I don’t want money, I don’t want notoriety, I don’t want anything other than time: time in front of educators to say what I have to say, hoping they listen with an open mind about how to stop these relationships before they start and how to recognize them once they’ve begun.
There is something every educator can do to be a part of the solution. Because while only a few teachers will cross the lines of propriety, the entire faculty can play a role in preventing it from happening.
Let me help you see how…
You just need to have a little vision.