Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Ex-Hooker Makes the Case for Tenure

By now you've probably read about Melissa Petro, the teacher who used to be a hooker. Mayor Bloomberg is trying to use this case as another opportunity to attack tenure by trying to yank it from this teacher. Oddly, he actually makes the case for tenure in doing so.

Most of us find prostitution morally wrong, and it certainly is illegal in New York. Still, here we have the case of a woman who climbed out of that sordid life and earned her way into the teaching profession. Nevertheless, Mayor4Life would seemingly prefer to fire her and perhaps cause her to return to that profession rather than starve. I'm sure the mayor feels she deserves it; after all, he himself has never done anything wrong. For example, when he was accused of sexual remarks toward a co-worker, he settled the suit without having to admit guilt, so we know his hands were clean even if his mouth may have needed washing out with soap. And of course, Bloomberg's company was accused of discriminating against 80 women as well, but none of that is his fault, either. Accountability is for the little folk.

What we have here is the case of a woman who had a sketchy past, but who managed to get her life together and turn in at least three satisfactory years for the DOE. As such, she earned tenure. Now Bloomberg wants to take it away. Let's imagine what will happen if he succeeds.

Have you ever smoked pot in the past? Had a beer while underage? Those things are just as illegal as prostitution, and if Bloomberg somehow gets the right to pull tenure from teachers who may have engaged in some illegal activity in the past, then the floodgates are open.

Where does it stop? Can you lose tenure because you once got a speeding ticket? How about if you got arrested at a peaceful protest of the Iraq war? Failed to curb your dog? Smoked a cigarette in a public place? Worn too short a skirt? Cheated on your third grade spelling test?

Without tenure, the mayor, chancellor, or your principal would be able to fire you for any of those reasons, or for no reason at all. That is why tenure is needed.

Ms. Petro was certainly unwise for letting her past become public. But if her tenure is taken away for her past behavior--if she is denied due process--then everyone becomes a target. Except the mayor, of course. He has the money to bury his past.

Let he who is without sin, or sexual harassment lawsuits, cast the first stone.

10 comments:

Susan said...

Face it: If she hadn't been let go, if something happened that she was involved in, the district would be neck deep in liability because they didn't reject her as a teacher in the first place.

Prostitution is a crime, and it goes to the core of fitness to teach. There are teachers out here, like myself, who were canned by an incompetent or vindictive principal over petty or nonexistent allegations and suffered through a series of rigged hearings and had our careers sidelined or destroyed. People like myself have NO sympathy for a woman who is clearly unfit to teach.

Given the fact there are so many qualified teachers unemployed who have little or no baggage, it is hard indeed to have sympathy for a former prostitute. She should have her license stripped and never be allowed to teach in public schools anywhere in the United States.

The fact is she would have been fired anyway, tenured or not.

Susan said...

By the way, take a look at Oregon's Teacher Standards and Practices website. Teachers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked have their names and their cases on this website.

There are teachers "guilty" of far less than this teacher was who lost their licenses.

I have NO sympathy for a teacher who seems proud of her former "career" as a prostitute.

Anonymous said...

Moral majority types who look down their noses at this woman are even worse than the Mayor.

A teacher should have compassion. The two prior statements show a stunning lacl of it.

For the first response, get off your high horse.

We are supposed to be models, how about paying us like models. Susan, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Angry Nog

Mr. Talk said...

A lot of my teacher friends are on FaceBook. I know of a few who have photos of themselves there drinking beer, or who have "liked" pages of an adult nature (not X rated, just not school material). That information is public. Should they lose tenure, too? Remember, tenure only guarantees you a fair hearing--it does not mean that you can't be fired.

Where do we draw the line? If everyone who's ever made a stupid mistake was barred from teaching, we'd have a lot of empty classrooms.

There's no question that this woman did something foolish. But does doing something foolish mean that you forfeit all your rights?

Susan, the reason I blog anonymously here is that if I used my real name, it's quite possible that the BloomKlein minions would try to fire me, too.

As far as I know, all this woman has done wrong since becoming a teacher is open up too much about her personal life. If that's an offense that should get her fired, she at least deserves the consideration of a fair hearing.

Could Bloomberg get a job at the DOE with his history of lawsuits? Why does he get to settle out of court for undisclosed sums while this woman is unworthy of a hearing?

Anonymous said...

Want to be a mayor? Create the next Don't Ask, Don't Tell bill that protects this third term closet queen.

California Teacher said...

The issue is not that she was a protitute... the issue should be about her value-added rating. If she has high value-added, what difference does it make who she was in a past life? Now, if her value-added is low in combination with having been a prostitute, well then... there must be a problem.

veteran teacher said...

She exercised poor judgement 4 sure being so cyber-public re:her illegal past. From what I've read, she was a very effective teacher. A hearing is in order. Depending on what was posted, sanctions could range from counseling on proper social networking; to dismissal if it is determined what she posted about violated morals clause for teachers [do these still exist]by self-disclosure of criminal activity. Tenure gives her this due process.

Belle Lugosi said...

At least she's NOT a liar and a fraud such as the ones who are our "leaders". Some of the commenters above better get over being so moralistic; she had to have been good with the kids. Obviously, a gal of her prior experience is a real people person, and that is an asset in our field. Her biggest offense is being ridiculously open about her sordid past. Everyone will just have to get over it and move on....so far, in her present incarnation as an effective teacher, her former life appears to have no impact whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that nobody writes about the call girls higher-ups at the DOE use at our expense. Let's contact their wives. It's a value-added thing!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:59 AM, those "call girls" have titles, such as "Deputy Superintendent" or "Eva Moskowitz".