Allow me to share a parable I recently heard on The West Wing:
This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you. Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, “Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”
This parable perfectly illustrates why I do what I do — why I wrote After 3PM, why I make speeches, why I give interviews — that is why. I’ve been stuck in the depths of the issue I’m fighting — and I know the way out.
I see story after story, weekly (if not more often) of another teacher who has been arrested for another relationship with a student. And no one seems to be doing anything about it, except me. But here’s the problem: Every time I offer, the door is slammed in my face.
No one wants to hear me speak because no one wants to face this bitter truth.
No one wants to hear me speak because “I am me.”
No one wants to hear me speak because that would mean admitting the problem exists.
No one wants to hear me speak because they know I know what they don’t want the public to know — things about school culture among faculties which are seldom (if ever) discussed — things parents do not know but should know — things which happen regularly.
Here are a few examples from the school where I taught: Wichita East High School
- An art teacher at East was caught selling drugs to students. She was offered an “early retirement” and the problem suddenly went away.
- A wrestling coach was accused of having a relationship with a female student, a team manager. He was transferred to another school and the girl conveniently recanted.
- One of the assistant principals began having an affair with one of the security officers at East. They’re married now. I grew up with her ex-husband. This is the same security officer who had a Protection from Abuse Order served to him at the school from a different woman. He was accused of beating a woman, yet he was allowed to “protect” students.
- During a drug sweep at the school when the Wichita Police Department brought drug dogs to search for drugs on campus, the police officers were directly instructed by the East High administration to not take the drug dogs through the faculty parking lot.
- There was an orchestra teacher who was rumored to have an ongoing physical and emotional relationship with one of his female students. This relationship was never reported to police, but the administration had full knowledge of the rumor, and possibly full knowledge of the relationship. Not long after the student graduated, the two of them got married. So obviously, their relationship began when she was his student before she graduated. And by the way, he is still teaching there.
- Halfway through the 2017-2018 school year, I wrote a letter to the principal at Wichita East High School, offering to give him information about teachers at his school whom I knew had crossed the lines of legality in the past. I offered to tell him everything I knew. My letter was ignored.
- I sent Wichita East High School an advance copy of After 3PM. In the book, I describe in detail what was actually going on at that school (with the administration’s full knowledge) while he was the principal. A few weeks after receiving the book, he announced his retirement.
From the limited feedback I’ve received, I’ve been shunned by many schools and school districts because a significant variable in the limited scope of unlawful teacher/student relationships is the overall out-of-control culture which is fostered amongst many faculties. Thus, to address one problem, there are many problems which also must be addressed. When an entire culture of educators is allowed to do whatever they want with whomever they want whenever they want, why do we feign shock and disbelief when another teacher has another relationship with another student?
But here’s why I can help. I have an extensive and broad scope of insight. I’ve been wrapped up in that culture — the sex, the drugs, the booze, the affairs — and now that I’m on the outside looking in, I can see it all so much more clearly.
The educational system is in a hole. And little-to-nothing is being done to help; experts are just writing their own prescriptions, prayers, and advice, throwing them down in the hole, and moving on.
Well, I’ve been down in that hole, and I know the way out.
Listen to me. Just once. Listen to me. Read the book. I can help.
I know the way out!