Editor, The News:
Re: Pitt teacher caught with pornography on laptop (The News, Nov. 1)
I found your article about a Pitt Meadows secondary teacher being caught with pornography on his school-issued laptop disturbing, for several reasons.
Firstly, the teacher is a member of our small community and he was named personally. One look at the comments section of the online article and one finds his current and former students commenting on the situation, meaning that this teacher will have to live and work with a tainted reputation for several years to come.
Teenagers are hard enough to work with in the best of circumstances, and this article has only made that situation worse.
Furthermore, if this man is married or has children in the community, they would have to live with the consequences of this very public article, and they would have done nothing to deserve that.
Secondly, the issue has been dealt with by the school district and the union. The teacher has served a three-week suspension without pay and been put in a treatment program for alcoholism.
It seemed to me that this very public outing of a man’s professional conduct and treatment was beyond unnecessary, bordering on harassment, as it had been previously addressed by his employer.
Should we publicly decry the professional misconduct of all professions that come into contact with our children? Shop keepers? Journalists? Where should it end?
Thirdly, the description of his interactions with students (involving himself in personal affairs and participating in gossip) sounds like an honest attempt at a teacher who is trying to establish a working relationship with a large group of teenagers. This is a process that is never easy and can sometimes require one to be personal and (sometimes painfully) humorous.
In fact, if one reads to the very end of the article, one finds a statement from the Maple Ridge Teacher’s Association saying that the problem has been dealt with.
So, I was left with the question, “What is the point of this article”?
My only answer was that this was to publicly shame a teacher and humiliate his family.
After all, the school district stated in the article that it takes the best interests of students seriously and that it does everything in its power to ensure their safety. So the safety of students is clearly not served by publishing this piece.
It is this kind of journalism that will make it more difficult for us to find good teachers in the years to come.
As more teachers retire, what kind of person will want to enter a career where they have to put up with the difficulties of managing a classroom while at the same time facing public criticism from news outlets such as yours?
In what has become the most precarious of professions (with personal and professional reputation on the line with seemingly every interaction between teacher and student), I find that this article serves only to scare away future teachers and hurt the reputations of the teacher mentioned in the article and his family.
In my opinion, that is not journalism, but rather gossip that ought not be published.