By Dale Jones
School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful, barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, “I Love You, Joe”
When we were a couple o’ kids
So goes the century old song about a couple looking back at their puppy love days in elementary school.
Based on recent news, however, you would think that maybe the “queen” of the song was the teacher, and that “Joe” was the 11th grade quarterback on the football team.
Despite the fact that we live in what everyone calls the Bible belt, there are more instances of inappropriate relations between high school teachers and students in Alabama than in any other state.
Just two days ago in Pickens County, 30-year-old Charli Jones Parker, a physical education teacher and girl’s basketball coach at Pickens Academy in Carrolton was put in jail on charges of a school employee having sex with a student. Ironically, her husband also teaches and coaches at the school. How on earth does this happen?
A week ago, Decatur City school teacher Carrie Witt was arrested for having sex with two students.
A week before that, former Pell City teacher Ashli Gilley pleaded guilty to having sex with two students.
Less than a month ago, an assistant coach at East Limestone High School was charged with having sex with a student.
What most people would find appalling has become an almost weekly occurrence here in our state. It even caused Alabama Senator Cam Ward of Alabaster to introduce a bill called the “Educator-Student Training Act.”
This bill would have required teachers in our public school systems to do an hour-long training course each year which focuses on inappropriate interactions with students.
The class would focus on what is appropriate interactions between educators and students on social media, outside of the classroom, and also on the proper use of corporal punishment.
News outlets literally all over the country picked up on the story, and social media has been buzzing about it for days.
Think about it folks – a mandatory training course, specifically designed for people who have earned a college degrees and who have dedicated their lives to educating our young people, on how not to have inappropriate sexual relationships with their students.
Experts (whoever they are) say that the instances have increased because of social media. It is supposedly easier for a teacher and student to interact privately via social media than it would have been, say 15 years ago.
Maybe that’s true. But personally, I liken that to saying guns kill people.
No, people kill people.
There are thousands of educators all across this country that use social media in an appropriate way every single day to enhance the education of their students. This isn’t about social media. It’s about morals.
What happened to the stereotypical idea that students “hated” their teachers, who were always old ladies with their hair tied in a bun?
I don’t know if an annual required training course is the answer, especially for something that common sense would tell you not to do. Maybe it is. But just the fact that someone even had to introduce such a bill, in my opinion, speaks volumes about where we have come as a society.