Educators deserve privacy and personal autonomy
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
I don’t think there is any profession that is more scrutinized than teachers. I understand why, to an extent. They are preparing children for the world, so, naturally, parents want to make sure that their kids’ minds are being moulded by the right person.
However, teachers are fired left, right, and center for ridiculous reasons. Reasons that would be tolerated by any other profession and for things that most adults do, but since teachers are role models for children they are held to different—often unreasonable—standards, which I find ridiculous.
Take Penny Mueller, a principal at Crestomere school in Edmonton, Alberta who was under fire in 2014 for pretending to jerk off the Washington Monument in a photo from 2009. Despite the photo being from five years before and being private on her friend’s Facebook account, some parents thought it was necessary to pull their kids out of the school. Mueller addressed this by saying, “I think the media need to be aware about how the public or parents go out of their way to destroy or cause grief in educators’ lives.”
Another teacher, Ashley Payne at Apalachee High School in Winder, Georgia was asked to either resign or be suspended after photos of her holding alcohol on vacation in Europe in 2009 came to her employers’ attention.
Social media has landed a lot of people in hot water with their jobs, and this is painfully true for teachers. It seems to be a constant occurrence that educators are fired or suspended for posting “inappropriate” photos, ranging from modelling jobs to photos of teachers in bikinis while on vacation. However, there is also a double standard at play here, as when math teacher Pietro Boselli’s modeling past was made public, he was branded “the worlds sexiest math teacher.” Meanwhile, teachers like Olivia Sprauer, Victoria James, Gemma Laird, and more have been punished for their modeling or bikinis photos surfacing, which makes me think it’s not the photos that are the problem.
Social media isn’t the only thing that gets teachers in trouble; things that you did in the past can put your career on the line as an educator. Teachers like Stacie Halas, Susan Brennan, and Nina Skye among many others have been sacked because of past performances in pornography. People claim kids shouldn’t be exposed to such things, but it’s not like they’re showing pornography in class, so what’s the big whoop? By firing a teacher over previous occupations in pornography, it stigmatizes porn and sex work in general as something that should be viewed as shameful.
Educators are role models for children, but that doesn’t mean they should be reprimanded for doing adult things in their adult lives in an adult world. It is ridiculous that society punishes teachers for something as insignificant as a five-year-old photo on social media, but since teaching is a female-dominated field, I can’t act surprised.
Nobody is perfect, and teachers are human too, and like all humans we make mistakes. That should not be a reason to be fired from your job. Teachers are role models for kids, and I think there is no better way to be a role model than to be able to talk about your past mistakes and to be honest about who you are. The scrutiny teachers are put under makes this impossible. They are not paid nearly enough to be judged in every aspect of their life.
There are dozens of things teachers should be punished for, but what they do in their personal life should not be one of them. I plan on becoming a teacher, and I hope one day that the profession is free from undeserved personal scrutiny.