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Opinion: Enough With the Sensational Headlines to Make Every Teacher Seem Like a Bad Apple

Opinion: Enough with the Sensational Headlines to Make Every Teacher Seem Like a Bad Apple

Sensational headlines to draw in an audience are nothing new, but lately it feels as if slow days in education news has resulted in a flood of stories determined to make individuals who happen to be teachers and have made bad decisions a representation of the profession.

For a profession that is already beleaguered and struggling to earn the respect it deserves in an overwhelmed society, these headlines are particularly damning and shouldn’t be brushed off as a downside of how the media works.

Today alone, this headline dominates education news:

Teachers union would rather cover up abuse than protect our kids

The headline comes from The New York Post, known for its sensational tactics and is not-so-obviously filed under “opinion.” It fails to mention that the incident in question was set-up by a conservative journalist known for using controversial tactics to cast a negative light on organizations that operate against conservative ideology. The journalist in question was most famously involved with the videos of Planned Parenthood employees allegedly selling fetal tissue. Now, teacher unions are just the latest of his targets but that headline offers no such background info and instead evokes a feeling that unions oversee rampant abuse of our nation’s kids.

Similarly circulating the web today is this headline:

Teachers Are Using Instagram to Have Sex with Their Students

If you’re not familiar, this article is referencing the inappropriate relationship between 24-year-old Texas teacher Alexandria Vera and a 13-year-old student that resulted in Vera’s pregnancy.

A twisted story, no doubt, but not a reason to make teachers in Texas and beyond defend themselves for simply having an Instagram account, which this headline does.

As I’ve written about in the past, many teachers use social media for positive ways to supplement student learning and to use student tech in a meaningful way. Such an abrasive and assuming headline calls all of that positive work into question because of one individual’s demented actions.

The article behind the abrasive headline discusses districts implementing policies that let educators know what actions on social media are appropriate or not- something that the average, responsible educator undoubtedly already knows.

Teachers need competitive pay, professional support and access to more resources, not a constant need to defend themselves against the isolated actions of reprehensible individuals. 

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

6/8/2016

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