The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘teachers’


With a lifelong passion for companion animals, primarily dogs although a few kitties worked their way in, I heartily support the effort to act humanely and control the animal population so that fewer of them are inhumanely treated or are euthanized.  While I personally value these critters more highly than at least a couple of the people I’ve met on my journey, I realize that the prevailing thought among most people is that we, as top of the food chain (momentarily), are far more important than the most wonderful of our four footed friends.  So let’s go with that line of thought for a moment.

I’ve previously written about an explanation I received from a Russian Orthodox bishop as to what the “unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit” was.  For those who missed it let me recap.  God’s love and forgiveness is limitless.  But unless the person who needs that forgiveness asks for it, God does not impose himself on the sinner.  The way most of us know this is by the label, “Free Will.”  But if a person is so hardened of heart that he refuses to ask for forgiveness, it is denied him.  That is not by God’s choice but is a function of the individual’s decision.

While I am not a theologian, from a lay person’s perspective I have come to the conclusion that certain specific acts or crimes are manifestations of the person who has reached a point where he or she is incapable of asking for compassion – because that person is unable to understand compassion and feels no guilt about inflicting violence and brutality against others.  The three crimes which I view as examples of this are crimes against children; crimes against the infirm or elderly; and crimes against animals.

We send our children to school to be educated in the fundamentals they will need to make it through.  We trust that when they go there they will be provided a safe environment in which to learn.  The most recent shooting spree by a jilted boy friend in Washington state is garnering only slightly more attention than the hatchet attacks against two rookie New York City policemen, probably because the shooter, a Native American, doesn’t fit the left’s agenda that virtually all violence is committed by white males and the NRA is responsible for all our ills.

But this piece is not about school shootings.  It is about something at least as tragic and even more widespread.  It is about sexually predatory teachers.  And it seems, based on recent arrests, that there is an ordinate number of women, not men, who are the guilty parties.  That doesn’t work well with the “War on Women” meme that abounds in the liberal media.

I recently read several stories in which female teachers took advantage of their position and had sexual relations with their students.  One was committed by a twenty-two year old substitute teacher on her first day teaching at a school in Washington, D. C.  The student was a seventeen year old male, on whom she performed oral sex.  Perhaps as disturbing as the story were the comments on the story, many of which referred to her attractive appearance and left remarks like, “Wow, she’s a looker.  I wish I had her teaching my class when I was in high school.”

Another story from a few days earlier detailed the fact that a thirty-four year old teacher had been arrested in California and charged with having an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her students.  In this case she was married and has several small children at home.  That in itself is a scary thought.

In New York City, a gym teacher was charged with thirty counts of statutory rape for allegedly having sex with one of her male students on a regular basis over a period of many months.  In addition, she faces four charges for “criminal sexual acts”.  Apparently, predators are not restricted to any geographical area.  All they need is a classroom.

My parents had many concerns that they pondered in my rearing.  I am, however, confident that worrying about one of my teacher’s molesting me while at was at school was not on their list of worries.  If I had kids in school today I suspect I would feel differently.

Now I realize that there are those on the left who adamantly oppose the death penalty, suggesting that the argument that executing someone does not really deter others from committing similar executable crimes.  Perhaps they’re correct.  And the argument that if we made a mistake in arriving at a conviction and then execute the person, well that decision is irreversible.  That’s definitely true.  So I would like to promote a compromise punishment for people who are found guilty of sexually predatory behavior – whether teachers or otherwise.  Spay and neuter.

Should the reader think this is “cruel and unusual punishment” I would draw their attention to the children who are maligned and how they are likely to suffer a lifelong struggle to overcome their abuse.  And, unlike a lethal injection or a firing squad, having to live the rest of your life as an asexual person might indeed prove to be a deterrent for others contemplating engaging in similar activities.

As to the argument that the death penalty is final – well, I’d admit that this too would be irreversible should someone be wrongly convicted.  But I have faith that in the near future, science will have developed a way for us to clone ourselves – so for those few who were innocent, there would still be light at the end of the tunnel.  That might be a brighter light than the one that will ever shine on the victims whom these predators have abused.


About a week ago as I was going to the supermarket to do some grocery shopping, I was greeted by a very tall young boy whom I took to be in his early teens and several of his teammates who were wearing their school’s baseball uniforms.  They were soliciting donations to buy some new equipment.  Accompanying them and sitting at a table that the store had allowed them to set up was a man in his early 40’s whom I guessed was either the father of one of the team members or perhaps one of their coaches.

The young man was very polite and explained that they were trying to raise money for their team.  I gave him credit for taking his time on a weekend in order to solicit us shoppers for something that was a purpose in which he believed.  So I was certainly willing to contribute to the cause.  However, I was curious about his level of scholastic achievement and so I decided to offer him a little test and, if he answered correctly, told him I would donate to help him in his efforts to purchase new equipment.

I am not quite sure why I decided on this particular question but I asked him if he knew what the capital of Chile was.  I could see a blank stare come over his face – as though Chile was not so much a location as it was something you ate.  The coach at the table tried to help him out – “It begins with an ‘S’.”  No help.  “The last letter is ‘O’.”  Still nothing.  I admonished the coach for these helpful hints – but they proved to be of no value.  The young man simply had no idea.

In a very early post I explained both my interest in and how I learned a great deal of the geography that I know.

If you read that earlier post you will realize that one of the things that helped me learn about different countries was in collecting the stamps of those countries.  I seriously wonder if anyone under the age of 30 has ever actually written a letter or sent a Christmas card that wasn’t done through electronic means.  Perhaps that is part of the problem in our technological age.  But the other part may be the curricula in our schools.  So I asked, “Don’t they teach geography in school anymore?”  He answered, “We get a little of that ‘World Stuff’ but not much.”

I had never heard geography phrased as “World Stuff” but I guess that’s the new normal.  Perhaps it is for that reason that a fair number of younger folk think that Afghanistan is somewhere left of Mexico and just right of Hawaii.  In the olden days, we might not have been terribly concerned about what was happening in Niger or India or Australia – but at least we knew where they were.

So I decided to offer this young man a second opportunity to raise money for his team.  I got away from the “World Stuff” and brought things as close to home as possible by asking him if he knew what the capital of Nevada was.  I told him that I would give him two chances and he should consult with his younger teammates before giving me his choices.  A gleam of hope shone on his face and I thought that he was going to give me the correct answer.

Without consulting his teammates he blurted out, “Las Vegas.”  I presume that if you’re relying on pure guess work, picking the largest city in the state is not an unreasonable choice – but, of course, it is incorrect.  That left only about four cities of any size from which to select and he chose the second largest one, Reno.  Also incorrect – though only about twenty-five miles from the actual capital, Carson City.

So, although he didn’t get my donation, which I had hoped to provide him, I decided to use the opportunity to turn this into a life lesson.  So I said, “I’m sorry that you will not be getting a donation from me today.  I really would have liked to help you and your teammates out.  But there is a lesson to be learned here – which is that the only things in life that are free are generally things that we don’t want.  We have to work to earn the rest.  The next time I see you, I’m going to ask you another geography question and I hope that you’ll study up on the subject so that you can give me the correct answer and I can give you my donation.”

This is not to say that this young man falls into the category of folks we used to categorize as “Dumb jocks” or in any way impugn his intelligence.  He seemed very bright and eager.  But that is not enough if the raw materials for learning are not being provided by our schools and further fostered in our homes.  And that is a pity in a society which views our world as a “Global Village.”

Sadly, in this Global Village, I’m not sure that this youngster would be able to find either the kitchen or the bathroom.  And in all honesty, I wonder if his teachers would do any better.


Mr. Gamble was an instructor at my grammar school. He taught English and Latin and was assuredly one of the most demanding of all my teachers. He was not satisfied with anything short of perfection in his pupils. I had a tremendous amount of respect for him – and I’m glad he’s dead.

 He was a man of average height, perhaps a few pounds overweight – but he carried that off well with his martinet-like erect stance. When Mr. Gamble taught me he must have been in his late 50’s. He was bald – other than having about a two inch tall ring of hair running around his head – each hair looking as though he had just left the barber’s chair – perfectly trimmed and in place. He had a large Roman nose which always drew my eye when I looked at him.

 The suits he wore were very conservative – either charcoal gray or navy blue pin stripes, with an occasional dark brown one thrown into the mix. There was always a perfectly arranged handkerchief in his breast pocket – folded in a triangular design. His tie was precisely knotted and his shoes looked as though they had spent an hour under a skilled shoe shine artist’s capable hands. You could practically see your reflection in the leather.

 While we might get away with talking for a few seconds after one of our other teachers entered the room – that just didn’t happen in Mr. Gamble’s class. As soon as he entered the classroom, there was total silence. Mr. Gamble indeed commanded respect – and we gave it to him.

 Mr. Gamble had a true love of language. You may ask why any school would even teach Latin – a dead language. But, of course, a great deal of Latin has filtered its way into English – and to know our own language’s roots is to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the language we speak. You will remember that this was “back in the days” when schools emphasized learning broad vocabularies and actually taught grammar.

 Each of us knew the difference between “to”, “too” and “two” and “there”, “their” and “they’re” – distinctions which seem to be lost on a significant portion of those who speak and write English in America today.

Mr. Gamble died of a sudden heart attack a number of years after I had graduated. I was truly saddened by his death and remember crying when I heard about it. He was a demanding teacher but he did his job in the same immaculate manner in which he dressed. I believe that his pupils are better communicators because of what he shared with us.

When I said that I was glad he had died it is because I can only imagine how the cacophony of what today passes for English would have offended his hearing. We live in a world where “Yo”, “Bro”, “Dude” and “Awesome” seem to comprise the entire vocabulary necessary to communicate. And that is tragic since we have inherited an incredibly rich language – filled with meaningful words – which by and large go unused by the general population.

 If it is true that, “what separates man from the lower animals is our ability to communicate through language” – we are apparently doing our utmost to narrow the gap. I’m glad that Mr. Gamble has been spared all this. And I wonder if there are any other teachers who share Mr. Gamble’s passion for language – and how they must feel.

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