Friday, April 8, 2011

CTC Backlog Does Not Mean More Monsters in the Classroom

Monsters in the Classroom (Image by
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.


  1. 300 teachers is not nothing. Yea, that is just 2.5% of teachers reported, but that is still something. If there is any truth to the idea that a teacher who has committed a crime and a serious infraction of his or her duty being allowed to stay in school even on more day... I am sorry that is a problem.

  2. Actually, there are over 300,000 teachers in CA, which would make it only 0.1%, a tiny number. Nevertheless, you are correct that any dangerous teacher should be removed and all accusations should be promptly investigated, as I said in my article. The CTC does have a problem that needs to be fixed.

  3. But you lied in the title. The backlog does mean that there are more monsters in the classroom. If those 300 teachers were not promptly investigated that is a monster in the classroom... end of story.

  4. A lie is a deliberate attempt to deceive or convey inaccurate information, which my title most certainly is not.

    Of those 300, many (probably most) have nothing to do with molestation or abuse. Just because a teacher is accused, does not make them guilty; and even if a teacher is guilty of being a bad teacher it does not make them a monster (e.g.,
    coming to work late; having trouble getting kids to behave; or not being up to date on the content standards may be unprofessional or even incompetent, but it is certainly not a monster).

    Highlighting a few egregious predatory cases, as the LA Times did, is deceptive and creates an image of schools full of perverts, which is a gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of the facts. Yes, we need to protect kids from the few perverts that do make it into the classroom, but exaggerations and hysteria over child predators will not make the problem go away. Sometime we need to fight the monsters in our own heads.

    End of story.