In reading about the 20-day suspensions handed out in two Clayton County cases — the drama student sex in the empty classroom and the teacher love triangle melee – and the threat of suspension in the Barrow County Facebook case, I have several questions:
1. Doesn’t the suspended teacher come back under a cloud? None of my children’s teachers has ever been suspended, but I would certainly worry about what a teacher did to be removed from a classroom setting for four weeks. Can the teachers be effective after this or is their reputation shot?
2. Don’t the students of a suspended teacher lose valuable and irreplaceable instruction time? I have read studies about how teacher absences affect student performance. In one study, high teacher absences from the classroom were associated with lower scores. The timing of a suspension – before the CRCT or near the end of an AP class — could certainly hurt student performance. I have been a substitute teacher in a high school, and those students clearly lost ground with me. I filled in for several different classes, and my main instructions were to keep kids quiet and out of the halls. This was back when I was in graduate school and,while I could have taught journalism, I could not teach geometry or French, two of the classes for which I subbed now and then.
3. Is there a better way to reprimand teachers without yanking them out of the classroom and making the students suffer, too?
4. Are suspensions worth it? (In most cases that I read about, I think suspensions are an extreme punishment, including the students-having-sex-in-the-classroom saga. I am not sure, however, that suspension wasn’t too light a result in the teacher love triangle brawl in which one participant resigned and one was suspended for 19.5 days. (Also, I am not too keen on “my pregnancy made me do it” defense. I have been pregnant, including very pregnant with full-term twins. And while I had uncontrollable urges to sit down quite a bit, I never became so hormonal that I would chase down co-workers and pound them.)