Beating The Naked Teacher Principle: The Provocatively Clad Bodybuilding Teacher Principle.

min jensen

It is important to remember that the The Naked Teacher Principle   doesn’t state that pre-college teachers who allow themselves to be seen on the internet in states of undress likely to arouse the lust of their students should and must be fired—though most of them should be—but that they have no legitimate complaint if they are. Teachers who must command respect, serve as role models, and of course, teach, should not permit themselves to become pin-ups and peep-show stars for their students. At very least, they owe their employers and their students’ parents advance notice.

Mindy Jensen, a Utah middle school teacher,  has a second (or perhaps first) career as a bikini model and fitness competitor. She came under the  cloud of The Naked Teacher Principle the usual way: a student was surfing the web and cried out: “Holy crap! That’s my teacher, and she’s HOT!”  The news (and images) spread around the community and student body quickly. Parents called the Instagram photos “pornographic” and demanded that Jensen be dismissed. The school gave her an ultimatum: take down the photos, make her account private, or get sacked.

Jensen made the Instagram account private, then changed her mind. . Explaining her decision, Jensen told ABC Utah,  “Why am I taking this picture off, I get comments and messages that it’s inspirational to them and these women like my story. If I put it to private, it’s not going to reach these people that might need and understand me.”

The school has since backed down,  opting instead to hold training sessions for  parents on teaching kid to be careful on the Web—you know, like avoiding hot photos of their teachers. (Good luck with THAT.)

I think several features of this episode on The Naked Teacher Principle spectrum led to this result. In 2014, in this post about whether the NTP applies to non-teaching bodybuilding mothers, I raised the issue of bodybuilding teachers on the web, and posited this photo as an example for discussion: Continue reading

Worst Ethics Quiz Ever

 lifeboat test

A teacher in the Hillsborough County School District gave students a “Lifeboat Quiz” asking students to choose who lives and dies during a hypothetical sea disaster.

They were told 15 people need to be saved but there was only room for nine people on the boat. They then had to choose among options including “the black guy,” “the Hispanic woman,” “the pregnant woman, ” and also Barack Obama , Donald Trump, and, uh, Justin Bieber.

The students were 11; this was the 6th grade in the Giunta Middle School in Riverview, Florida . A mother of one of the students turned this into news by claiming the test was racist—she knew the magic word, all right. It’s not racist at all. What it is is incompetent and inappropriate. Naturally, the debate has been immediately detoured into issues like diversity, which have nothing to do with what’s wrong with the test. I could imagine an excellent teacher steering the discussion of a lifeboat dilemma into a useful general discussion of bias and ethics. I cannot imagine anyone who would think this quiz could support such a discussion being skilled enough to teach such a lesson.  If the teacher told students that their choices should consider diversity quotas, she should be fired. What are the odds, do you think? Continue reading

If They Threw Elliot In Jail For Kissing Erika Eleniak, What Would Have Happened To E.T.?

In a memorable scene in “E.T.,” young hero Elliot (Henry Thomas), intoxicated by his psychic link to his marooned space alien pal, loses impulse control during Middle School science class and, while E.T. watches John Wayne’s passionate kiss with Maureen O’Hara in “The Quite Man,” embraces the class heart-throb—played by barely pubescent “Baywatch” babe-to-be Erika Eleniak!

Erika

— and gives her a passionate smooch.

If Spielberg’s classic premiered today, this scene might be condemned as sexual assault by feminists, who would insist that Elliot should have been charged. Is that really fair? Rational? Sane?

At  Pikesville (Maryland) Middle School, a 13-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree assault for kissing a 14-year-old girl on a dare. Police were called to the scene by the school, undoubtedly influenced by the current sexual assault freak-out on college campuses. (The proper response of an ethical and well-led police force, by the way, would be “Don’t waste our time.”) Continue reading

Our Child-Abusing Schools: Prosecution For A Prank

"You changed your grade on the school computer, kid--that's the death penalty!"

“You changed your grade on the school computer, kid–that’s the death penalty!”

In Holiday, Florida, Paul R. Smith Middle School eighth-grader Domanik Green was suspended for breaking into the school computer system to  change the background on his teacher’s computer to feature a photo of two men kissing. Then school administrators decided that the punishment wasn’t enough. They had him charged with the felony of computer hacking, and the fourteen year old will be tried as an adult.

The only explanation I can come up with for stories like this is that the school administrators don’t like kids. This wasn’t some sophisticated hack, like the stuff Matthew Broderick did in “War Games.” He knew the teacher’s password (his last name), and just changed the background. Changing a teacher’s background on his computer is the 21st century equivalent of putting an uncomplimentary caricature of the teacher on the blackboard. Charging a teen with a felony for that is excessive and cruel.  Putting in his own claim to a share of the Fascist Disciplinarian of 2015 award was Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, who blathered, “Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done.”

Better shoot him, Chris, just to be safe. Continue reading

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 1)

Cosby3

2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. They were coming so fast that they were getting tangled up with each other, and old wrecks from past years started rolling again, or the damage that was triggered a year ago or more started kicking in. I don’t know if every year really is more ethics free than the year before, or that it just feels that way because I’m getting better at sniffing it out. By any standards, it was a wretched year, with epic ethical misconduct across the culture. But I can’t stall any more: let’s wade into it. There will be more installments this year, so the misery is coming in smaller bites. You’re welcome.

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

trainwreck

It’s a tie!

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck and The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck

The obvious winner is the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, which has managed to hook up with the 2012 winner, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, as well as a the sub-EthicsTrain Wreck attached to the death of Eric Garner, to further degrade U.S. race relations, undermine the stability of numerous cities, get several people, including the recently assassinated NYC police officers killed, revive race riots, give vile demagogue Al Sharpton unprecedented power and influence, and pick up such distinguished riders as President Obama,  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, New York Mayor de Blasio. It is also still barreling along at top speed after many months, and is a good bet to continue its carnage well into 2015. 

Yet, it became clear to me this summer with this post that the entire Obama Administration has become an Ethics Train Wreck, and one that is neck-and-neck with the one spawned in Ferguson in threatening short and long-term damage. Incompetence, dishonestly, lack of transparency and arrogance have hardened cynicism in the public, corrupted the ethical values of defenders, let journalists to disgrace themselves, and fertilized festering potential disasters internationally and domestically. This is also, I now see, a wreck of long duration that started in 2009, and had gathered momentum with every year. It also has sparked other wrecks, including the one that now keeps it from being the sole 2014 winner. How much damage will The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck do in 2015? Which agency or department will prove itself to be corrupt, incompetent and mismanaged, which official will continue in a post after proving himself unfit to serve, which inept pronouncement or abuse of power will further degrade American trust and freedom?

I’m not looking forward to learning the answers.

Fraud of the Year

The U.S. Justice Department, which allegedly participated in a plot to force  Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants  to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land as settlement of charges brought against the company by DOJ for causing a 2007 wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres of land in California. Naturally, the national news media has barely covered this scandal, which is still in litigation. Runner Up: The Victoria Wilcher scam, which made KFC pay for plastic surgery for a little girl when there was no evidence that the company was in any way involved with her injuries. After the fraud was discovered, it didn’t dare ask for its money back. Well played, fraudsters! Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month (Lawyer Representing A Hypocritical And Unethical Client Division): Keith Wyatt

“She lied to her mother so she could have sex with her teacher. She went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn’t she be responsible for that?”

—-Lawyer Keith Wyatt, L.A. Unified School District’s trial attorney who successfully defended it in a law suit by the family of a middle school girl who had been engaged in a six month sexual relationship with her math teacher. The girl’s family claimed the district negligently permitted the teacher’s criminal conduct to occur and that the teacher’s exploitation of the girl had caused emotional damage to their daughter. Wyatt also told a radio interviewer that it was a more dangerous for a 14-year-old to cross a street in traffic than to have sex with her middle-school teacher.

Yes, he’s an idiot.

Yeah, those middle school tarts all want it, right, Keith?

Yeah, those middle school tarts all want it, right, Keith?

The school district fired him, disavowing and apologizing for his comments. Yet they were willing to let Wyatt argue in court—on the school’s behalf, remember— that a 14-year-old middle school student was mature enough to consent to having sex with her 28-year-old teacher, and that she shared responsibility for what happened. Wyatt introduced the girl’s sexual history into evidence as proof of his client’s lack of culpability.

There is nothing wrong or unethical about Wyatt’s tactics in the trial itself. State law is weird in this area—this is California, after all, home of Hollywood, Roman Polanski fans, Woody Allen enablers, Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians—for while the age of consent is 18 in criminal cases, two appellate court rulings have held that the argument that a minor can consent to sex with an adult is permissible in civil law suits. He did what the law permitted him to do in defense of his client. That’s not just ethical lawyering, it is at the core of legal ethics. The argument won. Wyatt did what he was trained to do, paid to do, and obligated to do if he agreed to take the case

However, it is a revolting and irresponsible argument for any school or school district to make. Wyatt should have made this clear, and maybe he did (though that quote doesn’t support such a supposition.) Who in their right mind–well, OK, this is L.A.–would send their child to a school system that takes the position that a 14-year-old student is responsible when she is raped by her 28-year-old teacher, and that she’s really not being harmed if he does? The teacher, Elkis Hermida, was convicted of lewd acts against a child and sentenced in July 2011 to three years in state prison.  Continue reading

“To Rialto Unified School District School Administrators: Don’t Be Moronic!” Sorry, But If You have To Write That Memo, It’s Already Too Late…

Assignment: Pro or Con: "Sarah Palin is the spawn of Satan." Cite authorities...

Assignment: Pro or Con: “Sarah Palin is the spawn of Satan.” Cite authorities…

Here’s a  helpful hint for middle school teachers: if you are going to ask your students to write essays arguing that the the Holocaust never happened, the fact that your Interim School Superintendent is named “Mohammad Z. Islam” may raise some eyebrows with the JDL. Honestly, when I read this story and saw that name, I was sure it was a hoax that had been picked up by the news media.

Nope. The name is real, but more disturbing, the eighth grade writing assignment in California’s Rialto Unified School District required students to write advocacy essay, based on authority and research, mind you, on “whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.” Future topics for pro and con debate: Continue reading

KABOOM! A Teacher Sexually Molests A Middle School Student In Class (And The Daily Caller Thinks It’s Funny)

Well, there goes THAT suit...

Well, there goes THAT suit…

The latest KABOOM occurred when I read this report about Felicia Smith, a Houston 40-something middle school sexual predator masquerading as a teacher, who gave a a male student a lap dance in class, in front of his classmates, for his birthday.

I’m not going to reprint the details here; there are not levels of inappropriate lap dances for pre-teens. The teacher is under arrest; that’s not enough. A school that vets its teachers this negligently is a menace; a profession that allows a practitioner with such wretched judgement and such vile proclivities in its ranks is innately untrustworthy and an ugly sham. And a society that entrusts its vulnerable young to a system so corrupt and inept that this could occur is irresponsible.

One young  maniac attacks a school in New Town, and a national movement of fear is launched to remove a Constitutional right. Teachers sexually assault students nearly every day. What are schools doing about it? What are teacher unions and the education profession doing to protect potential victims? Where is the oversight? Does anyone believe that until she turned into a middle school stripper, Smith never demonstrated any suspicious tendencies? She just awoke one morning and decided that this was the day to give a child a lap dance? I don’t. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding”

Yoga-PantsThe ethics quiz on banning leggings and yoga pants for some female students and not others produced several excellent responses. I was surprised that the majority here supported selective enforcement, which is normally regarded as per se unfair. This response is especially remarkable considering that the selective enforcing will be done by the kinds of geniuses that punishe little girls for shaving their heads to make cancer victims feel better.

Here is the Comment of the Day by the intriguingly named “The Wednesday Woman” (whose comment arrived on a Sunday) on the post Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding, which answered the quiz query, “Is targeted dress coding ethical?”

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding

leggings

Yoga pants,  leggings, and other form-fitting outer-wear for girls are causing controversies among students, parents and school administrators. Some of the controversies are, frankly, wrong-headed. Here is an excerpt from an indignant letter sent to an Evanston (Illinois) middle school that banned the fitted lower-wear as inappropriate:

“This kind of message lands itself squarely on a continuum that blames girls and women for assault by men.  It also sends the message to boys that their behaviors are excusable, or understandable given what the girls are wearing.  And if the sight of a girl’s leg is too much for boys at Haven to handle, then your school has a much bigger problem to deal with.”

Ugh. Once again, we confront the burgeoning attitude that “don’t be an idiot” translates into making excuses for jerks. School girls need to learn where and when it is appropriate to send sexual messages (and how such messages are sent), or else they will be getting notes like this one when they are theoretically adults. Telling school girls that certain kinds of garb and make-up are not for the classroom is both responsible and reasonable. That is the message, and “assault by men” is not the issue in middle school. The issue is distracting from learning. The letter concludes…

“Girls should be able to feel safe and unashamed about what they wear.  And boys need to be corrected and taught when they harass girls.”

Well, let’s just let them come to school naked, then! School has a legitimate function of teaching students appropriate boundaries, both boys and girls. This is the “My Little Pony” issue, in a different form. There, the lesson is 1) don’t tolerate the bullies and 2) don’t gratuitously encourage and provoke them either. For “bullies,” substitute “middle school sexual harassers.” Continue reading