Friday, February 20, 2015

Teaching Within the Crucible

For better than the past ten years, tales of child abuse, and especially those with sexual context, have been part of the meat of media news reporting.  Although some of this has been the product of domestic relationships, the lion's share revolve around the church and the profession of teaching.  It would seem that both have long tacit histories of abuse within their circles.  But is that really true?
The revelations of abuse within the church, meaning the Catholic Church, very clearly go back decades if not centuries.  This isn't meant to indicate that similar abuses haven't gone by within Protestant ministries but, nevertheless, the focus has been on Catholic priests.  In the case of the Church, the assumptions of piety which are part and parcel of the priesthood no doubt went a long way in covering even the severest examples of misconduct. However, even the Pope admits to this and addresses it as a disease which must come to an end.
But what about teaching?  While it's true that in the past teachers were also venerated, where's the history of predation on children.  And if it's really there, why doesn't it predate the past decade or so of prolific reporting? Consider that in the case of the Church that victims came forward in their late teens, their twenties, their thirties, their forties..... to report the abuses they experienced at the hands of priests.  Where is that parallel history when it comes to teachers?  Are we to assume that some virtual craze just took over the profession in less than the last twenty years which has now just surfaced?  Or is this another invocation of the European witch craze or the Salem witch trials which eventually all religious authorities renounced as never truly existing?  

Consider that both the priesthood and the teaching profession had administrations which oversaw their activities.  In the case of the former, it has came to light that those in charge turned a blind eye to all of it or administered slight interventions such as transferring offenders.  In the case the latter similar things likely took place for those few who were truly offenders but also for those who weren't.  But here's where systems part ways too.  The Church had no interest in reducing its numbers among the priesthood because they were a financial burden.  School districts on the other hand and primarily the two largest in the country, Los Angeles and New York, specifically did.  The Church had no bloat of over payed superfluous, careerist administrators as do school districts and primarily Los Angeles which touts more administrators than any other school district in ratio to students and whose administrators are among the most highly paid in the country.  The Church also had no interest in replacing the traditional priesthood with cheap unqualified labor as does both Los Angeles and New York.   The priesthood was never represented by unions complicit with school districts in reducing and replacing their membership with cheap labor.  And in the case of the Church, the enforcement of cannon law passed into extinction long ago yielding to secular law.  In the case of school districts, long after secular law has declined to pursue falsely accused teachers, the districts maintain their own cannon law like investigations long after the authorities have ceased and further implement their own punitive measures.
Unless we're to assume that teachers were possessed by some rampant perversion suddenly toward the end the 1990's, one can't overlook the lack of history surrounding these accusations.  What seems more likely is that the crucible hasn't come to an end for them.  For teachers, the Salem witchcraft trials aren't quite a part of past history yet.  Rather teachers are whipping boys for every failure in education which in reality represents nothing but failures in due diligence on the part of administrators more interested in pursuing their careers even if it means wiping their hands of their failures on the skins of teachers.


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