My letter to Oprah.

Dear Ms. Winfrey:

Yesterday I happened to be doing a little channel-surfing as I sipped some afternoon coffee, just before diving into a stack of student papers that needed to be graded, which I wanted to knock out before grabbing the dinner that I wanted to gobble down before heading out to my Ad. Psych. class, the one I'm taking for my second certification requirements.  I happened to land on your program.  I don't know if it was a re-run of an earlier show or what, but I was pretty disgusted by what I saw.

You had on a teen-aged boy, along with his parents.  This young man had apparently been the victim of a sexual predator, one who had been lurking about in the guise of a middle school teacher.  This horrible woman had victimized this boy, along with a few others, from what I could tell, before this victim came forward and reported what was going on.  I gather this criminal is now in jail.

So, once again, we had the enticing tale of a young man seduced by an older woman who used her position of power and authority to get sex.  In other words, this was the story of a rapist.  Let us not mince words here.  That's what she is.

Here's my question:

WHY DID YOU NEED TO SPEND AN HOUR ON THIS? 

Why all the lurid detail?  Why the exploitation?  The kid sat on stage the whole time, mumbling answers to the questions you threw at him, with a blank stare on his face.  He looked as if he were ready to either burst into tears and bolt for the exit.  He looked ashamed.

I know there seems to be a lot of this stuff going on lately.  It's disgusting and terrible, and criminal.  It also gives the people who already have an agenda to do so even more ammunition to bash teachers and the whole public education system.  You know better than anyone that when a child is sexually assaulted, a CRIME has been committed.  We really don't need to spend a lot of time rehashed the gory details, as if this is somehow about sex.  It's about sickness, and, at the root of it, violence.  Violence against children.

You claim to love teachers.  You've done shows that have honored teachers.  That's nice.  On this particular day, you did not honor us.  You disgraced our profession by giving the enemies of public education (and they are myriad, and their ranks are powerful and growing like a virus) more tools with which to bash us.  This was not a story about information, as in educating parents or kids or anyone else.  This was a story about titillation, about exploiting this boy and his pain for entertainment purposes.  If we need to, we can read this stuff in the newspapers.  We can lobby our lawmakers to stiffen the penalties for criminals who do these things.  We get it.

Stop it.  No more exploitation, please.  The bad guys are doing that job just fine without your "help."  Hundreds of thousands of teacher like me, who go to work every day with love in our hearts for our students and for the job we do, don't need to hear this day after day.  We work hard at what we do.  Stop making our job even harder.

Respectfully,

David, A Teacher.

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