|Monsters in the Classroom (Image by epSos.de)|
Today’s LA Times, had an article about the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and its backlog of investigations of teacher misconduct. According to the Times article, teachers who have been accused of showing pornography to children, kissing a student, or sexual harassment have not been investigated in a timely manner. The CTC had a backlog of 12,600 cases as of the summer of 2009, did not keep good records and was slow to investigate allegations, according to the report.
The Times reports that the CTC employs 32 full-time staffers, six of whom are investigators, far too few to tackle a caseload of over 12,000 accusations. Investigations are further delayed because they must wait until local law enforcement and school districts have finished their own investigations before beginning theirs.
The audit shows that there is clearly a problem that needs rectifying, a problem due more to budget cuts than anything else. The CTC needs to hire more investigators and technicians who can maintain their records and databases. No one supports having molesters in the classroom, not even the unions.
Ultimately though, the Times piece was really just more teacher bashing, fanning the flames of hysteria that the schools are filled with rotten teachers. The article noted that there were only 300 cases last year in which the CTC voted to revoke teachers’ credentials, as if this was due to their backlog of investigations and implying that there might be thousands of predators and thugs looming in our children’s classrooms waiting to get them. It should be remembered that the vast majority of teachers do their jobs well and are never accused of misconduct. Of those thousands awaiting investigations, most will probably be found innocent. (Angry students and parents often level frivolous or meritless accusation against teachers). And some of those few who did lose their credentials likely lost them because of bureaucratic problems like forgetting to renew on time, not because of any misconduct.
While there are certainly some dangerous perverts who do make it past all the safeguards and into the classroom, the number is miniscule. This is not to say the problem should be ignored. The CTC does need to investigate these accusations promptly. However, it is also a hot button issue that ignites the strongest passions and that distracts people from more common problems and from rational solutions. It is curious that the Times did not bring up any examples of teachers not being investigated promptly for imposing their religious beliefs on their students or for refusing to teach evolution.