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'Keeping Sex Predators Out of Schoolrooms'

11:12 AM, Jan 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Campbell Brown, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

When a Michigan middle-school teacher was denied $10,000 in severance pay last month, the local teachers union filed a grievance against the school board on his behalf. Given the union's mission to defend the rights of educators, this would appear to be routine. Not so fast: The teacher is a convicted sex offender.

Neal Erickson was sentenced in July to a 15- to 30-year jail term after acknowledging that he had sexual relations with a male student beginning when the boy was 14 years old. The school board denied him severance once he was charged. But the local chapter of the National Education Association thinks this criminal deserves his severance, which says a lot about the mindset of teachers unions, which are also trying to weaken a bipartisan bill in Washington that would help keep sexual predators out of schools.

The Erickson case isn't unique. In August, a Maryland music teacher was arrested on child-pornography charges. Authorities subsequently discovered that his stash of 4,000 images included sexually suggestive photos and videos of 14 female students between kindergarten and second-grade ages. When the case became news, a woman who had been his student during the 1990s came forward and the teacher now faces additional charges of sex abuse and rape.

One former colleague told reporters that she had twice reported his suspicious activity, including locking his classroom doors when he was alone with young girls. But nothing happened because "the administrators didn't take it seriously enough," she said.

Horror stories like these are relatively rare, and parents know from experience that the overwhelming majority of teachers are resolutely protective of their students. Still, decades of research shows that states and districts could do much more to protect students from the minority of teachers who are abusive.

Whole thing here.

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