Where Does Work End and Life Begin?

I got an email from Punk’s high school this morning.  In it was an attachment of a letter to parents from the principal, letting us know that there was an “incident” involving a substitute teacher.  Here’s the pertinent part of the letter (the emphasis at the end of the note is mine):
Today we were informed that a recent substitute teacher at Local High School was involved in an incident in the community last night that resulted in criminal charges.
We have met with Local PD and have been assured that the event was not related to LHS, and we have no reason to expect any issues here.
The district has taken appropriate action in response to this information.
While this incident did not involve our students we wanted to be sure you had the information in a timely manner.


Here’s what I want to know; if the incident had nothing to do with the students, then why, exactly, does the administration feel it necessary to inform us about it?

I have long advocated for a clear and bright distinction between one’s personal life and one’s professional life; as long as your behavior off the clock does not impact your job, then it’s no one’s fucking business what you do in your free time.

Several years ago, the principal of my town’s middle school was fired for having been busted for DUI, and I remember being deeply troubled by that; the fact that he acted with less than stellar judgement during his free time had nothing to do with the fact that he was (as best I could tell) a reasonably effective administrator in the school (though, of course, the DUI could have been the excuse the school district needed to get rid of him; I’ll admit to not knowing all the facts in that case).

My point is that, at least according to this letter, this substitute teacher at no point put kids at any kind of risk.  Why, then, did I get this letter?  What purpose could this possibly serve but to stir up angst, curiosity, or even outright panic?

Someone help me out here, because I really don’t get it.



Filed under analysis, colleagues, critical thinking, dumbassery, ethics, failure, I can't make this shit up..., out in the real world, really?!, You're kidding...right?

3 responses to “Where Does Work End and Life Begin?

  1. I live in a big city. My neighbor is a retired teacher. She talks all the time about how she has to be careful about her behavior even though the schools she taught in are far away from us in space and time. The other morning we were walking on our block and a man in his 30s stopped and asked her if she had taught at such and such a school. She had. He remembered her, she didn’t remember him but she asked his name and made some noises in that direction. When he walked away she lamented, in a joking way but still, that she’d been swearing and acting foolish as he approached. Does swearing and acting silly matter? No, especially not if you’re retired but the fact of the matter is that people will equate personal and professional life. It’s why many teachers work hard to live outside of the town in which they teach. And that’s not the only profession for which it’s true but it’s a biggie. Sometimes principals drive field trip vehicles. It would give me pause to have a person with a DUI in that position, despite going to HS where one of the driving instructors had several.

  2. As you know, my personal behavior is directly tied to my work. If I had an affair, I would be out of a job. We have a moral conduct clause here. This is just one example.

  3. I have a behavioral contract as part of my teaching job. It stipulates a whole lot of things I cannot do in my personal life, regardless even of whether anyone knows about it. While I acknowledge that I teach at a private school (and so they’re allowed to do it), it does bother me sometimes. I get that because of what my school is and what we claim to do my conduct outside of school does matter to a certain degree, I still get uncomfortable about how much of my life is really the business of my administrators.

    As I said, though, this is a private school, they can do what they want, and frankly, I am the one who still chooses to sign it and work here.

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