Homeschooling Archives

Unwanted Advances at School

In Florida, evidence of a growing problem with the public schools.

At least 150 Florida teachers have been disciplined in the past three years after being accused of sexual misconduct with students, an Orlando Sentinel review has found.

Some of the most severe cases resulted in arrests and criminal convictions for offenses such as secretly watching a boy change and shower, tricking elementary-school girls into touching a man’s genitals and having sex with minor students. But the Sentinel’s case-by-case review of teacher discipline records from the Florida Department of Education found that a lot of the alleged misconduct did not rise to the criminal level.

Still, parents would be alarmed.


Those 150 cases don’t include the dozens of educators who have been suspended or lost their teaching certificates since 2006 for molesting non-students, downloading porn at school, having sex in public and trying to pick up prostitutes.

There is no research to show whether this is indeed an actual trend or a case of students reporting it more often.  However, there is research, cited later in the article, that shows that students now are very reluctant to report it.

Researchers, however, say far more children are affected by sexual misconduct at school than many people may realize.

The most in-depth study to date, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education in 2004, showed that nearly 10 percent of the country’s public-school students — 4.5 million children — had received unwanted sexual attention from school employees, including teachers.

Only 11 percent of students who are sexually abused by teachers report it, said Charol Shakeshaft, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who authored the 2004 study and is one of the nation’s top experts on the issue.

If only 11 percent reported it in 2004, we’d have to believe it was in the low-to-mid-single-digits in the decades prior to that.  That’s stretching things rather thin, in my opinion. 

And if only 11 percent are reporting it now, what we’re seeing, in Florida and elsewhere, could be 9 or 10 times worse that it looks. 

Homeschooling keeps looking better all the time.

On the love of reading

Having children that love to read is a joy for many a homeschool parent (although the phenomenon is certainly not limited to homeschooled children).

On a recent trip to California’s Central Coast we had a serendipitous, if not ultimately heartbreaking, homeschool moment with our youngest child. One of our favorite places to hang out, while touring the area, used to be Leon’s Used Bookstore, in San Luis Obispo. Imagine the look on our child’s face, however, as we walked up to the storefront, only to find the premises empty of its rows of bookshelves, with construction work being done inside. Alas, we soon found out that Leon’s Used Bookstore is no more, the victim of the costs of doing earthquake retrofitting for older, unreinforced masonry buildings.

Our youngest was on the verge of tears.

Imagine… a 21st century child, upset because her favorite used bookstore had to shut down? While it was a painful lesson in reality for her, my wife and I simply smiled at each other, content in the knowledge that our child has a sincere love of reading.

Another Sign of the Times

And another reason homeschooling looks better all the time (and why those folks in California need a re-hearing on that homeschooling case).

It’s an increasingly familiar scenario: An educator or coach, someone in a position of great trust, is accused of sexual misconduct with one or more students.

In Chicago, former Walter Payton College Prep basketball coach George Turner, 45, was charged recently with the criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of two 15-year-old female students.

While it’s "increasingly familiar", a study in 2004 makes one wonder how bad it must be now.

In 2004, Congress released the results of a report it had commissioned on teacher sexual misconduct. Compiled by Hofstra University Professor Charol Shakeshaft, it concluded that an estimated 4.5 million of 50 million students in American public schools "are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade."

It’s still a very underground sort of thing, as it mostly goes unreported.

"These cases tend to slip under the rug," said Terri Miller, president of the national organization Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation. "They let teachers quietly resign and move on."

That’s possible in part, she said, because state boards aren’t required to report incidents to the U.S. Department of Education.

"One of the big problems is that you’re in a situation where the acts by themselves are very private," said Chicago personal injury attorney Joe Klest, who has represented victims of sexual abuse by teachers and coaches.

"And even though they’re involving minors, and minors can’t legally consent, they are often groomed into consenting. So you’ve got two people — one saying it happened, one saying it didn’t — and there’s very rarely any extrinsic physical evidence."

I’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating.  What I’m waiting for is a public outcry like that which followed the same issue among Catholic priests.  The cynic in me wonders how much of this goes unreported so that the public school system doesn’t look bad, which would put privatization and homeschooling in a much better light.  The Teacher’s Union should be taking the point on this, but other than issuing statements tut-tutting each incident, not much changes. 

[tags]education,homeschooling,sexual abuse,George Turner,Charol Shakeshaft,Terri Miller,Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation,[/tags]

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