Almost every day we see another case of a teacher getting caught for sex with a young pupil. Indeed the number of teachers in the country who have sex with students, or otherwise engage in misconduct, seems out of control. In Texas, the problem is particularly bad and one politician is trying to do something about it.
Texas State Sen. Nicholas Van Campen Taylor, who is also preparing a run for Congress, wants to create a registry for teachers who have committed certain violations to prevent them from being hired in a position that has direct contact with students at a public school. He has sponsored a bill to make the registry law.
According to The Statesman, “hundreds of Texas primary and secondary teachers lost or surrendered their teaching licenses since 2010 after being investigated for improper relationships with a student. More than half were never criminally charged. In all of those cases, information about the alleged misconduct isn’t easily accessible from the Texas Education Agency and in many instances is kept secret by school districts, allowing those teachers to move on to other teaching jobs or jobs involving contact with children. Allegations ran the gamut, including sending flirtatious text messages, kissing students and having sex with students in their classrooms.”
In 2006, Mr. Taylor ran unsuccessfully for Congress from the area around Waco and Midland. He now represents Plano, Texas, home to numerous corporations such as JC Penney and Dr. Pepper Snapple. He is a direct descendant of the people who founded Humble Oil, which eventually became Exxon Mobile, as well as an Iraq war veteran and alumnus of Harvard and St. Paul’s, the elite boarding school in New Hampshire. St. Paul’s is famous for educating the ultra-wealthy, but also for the sexual culture which produced an infamous rape case a few years back. The notorious “senior salute,” i.e sex between male upperclassmen and younger female students, was a long held tradition at St. Paul’s. Mr. Taylor may be particularly sensitive to the “bad teacher” because of his experience at St. Paul’s.
One “element of the St. Paul’s calamity had been incubating for years: the allegations that, from the late 1940s through the early 90s, dozens of the school’s masters (as the teachers were known until women joined the faculty, in 1972), including several revered ones, had sexually molested students.” Numerous other elite private schools in the Northeast have had similar sex scandals, including Horace Mann, Milton Academy, and both Andover and Exeter. In some cases the allegations were swept under the rug and the teachers forced to leave their posts, only to turn up years later having taught for long tenures at other unsuspecting schools.
Mr. Taylor’s effort to make sure teacher misconduct is not forgotten does not yet include private schools in Texas.
There has been no significant movement for a national registry of bad teachers, or for a comprehensive way to track teachers from private or religious institutions.