May 4, 2005
Media spotlight unjustly shines on Letourneau
Where is the integrity surrounding Mary Kay Letourneau,
a married 35-year-old public school teacher who had a
sexual affair (twice) with a 13-year-old, one of her
middle-school students? Now she is a celebrity - made
famous by the media!
Parents send their children to school to learn. They
have every right to expect the school environment to
be safe and nurturing. When teachers and leaders of youth
are out of control, creating uncertainty and instability,
then changes will be made and restrictions increased.
Teachers are taught appropriate standards of behavior
that must never be violated. As stewards of value and
content education, they are expected to be role models,
inside and outside the classroom.
Letourneau, a Seattle-area schoolteacher, broke the
law along with the rules of common sense and decency,
was convicted of second-degree rape and required to serve
seven years in prison. She was released in August. Today,
she and her "child-lover" are the toast of
talk show television. How can a sexual predator, twice
convicted of rape, achieve celebrity status? The media
made this educator-turned-criminal into a hot topic,
perhaps for no other motive than to increase ratings
and revenue. How disappointing!
Had a male teacher initiated this type of teacher-student
seduction, impregnating a 13-year-old woman, how long
might the rapist have been placed behind bars? Upon release
from prison, how many responsible news shows would make
his story nightly "fodder" for demented "copycats" to
Letourneau's behaviors are similar to actions taken
by pedophile priests. Seduction and abuse of those who
aren't in a position to protect themselves - whether
in a classroom, the prayer chapel or the workplace -
must be stopped. What possible good can be served by
providing a convicted felon with a media platform upon
which to revise her own sordid history, repackaging her
second-degree rape story to justify her behavior?
One middle school teacher's depraved behavior, taken
center stage by the media, discounts the hard work and
dedication of an overwhelming number of educators.
news does not sensationalize and glamorize
the activities of an emotionally unstable educator with
a sexually active child, day after day and week after week.
It's time for the media to celebrate the contributions
of millions of teachers who, for their entire careers,
quietly and diligently instruct, counsel and mentor tens
of millions of young people, with uncompromising integrity.
These teachers provide safe and nurturing environments
for young people because they know integrity matters.