Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Educator-misconduct watch

"An Owasso High School music teacher who is accused of sexually assaulting a student surrendered to authorities Tuesday night," The Oklahoman reports today.

You may recall that a recent analysis by the Associated Press found that "sexual misconduct plagues U.S. schools" and suggests that sexual misconduct among male schoolteachers is at least as common as among male priests. A 2004 U.S. Department of Education study found that one in 10 public school students is sexually harassed or abused by a teacher or other school employee at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade.


Anonymous said...

I find it distasteful that you use the tragedy of sexual abuse to push forward your loosely related education policy agenda.

Every instance of sexual abuse at our schools is inexcusable, but it's important not to overstate the threat. The article you cite lists 2,570 educators out of over 3 million. That turns out to be 0.08% of public school teachers, or fewer than 1 per 1,000 teachers.

Further, the article does not, in fact, suggest that it is "at least as common" as among priests. Using the figures cited in the article, the rate for priests is more than 40 times higher, at 4.0% or 40 per 1,000 clergy.

Finally, it's important to note that it's nearly impossible to quantify cases of abuse in private and homeschool settings, since many teachers not unlicensed and disciplinary actions are not required to be disclosed. From the article: "Private school teachers rarely turn up because many are not required to have a teaching license and, even when they have one, disciplinary actions are typically handled within the school."

Brandon Dutcher said...


Thanks for posting a comment. You may find it "distasteful," but parents need to know the truth before choosing a public school (or a church, or a private school, or anything else). "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness," St. Paul says, "but rather expose them."

And I repeat: the AP analysis suggests that sexual misconduct among male schoolteachers is at least as common as among male priests. Professor Jay P. Greene explains why:

"At first glance it would seem that teacher scandals are much less common than priest scandals, but the priest numbers are of allegations, not license revocations, and are over a 53 year period instead of a 5 year period. If we adjust for the time difference, there were .76 priest scandal allegations per year per 1,000 priests. For teachers there were .17 teacher license revocations per year per 1,000 teachers. But if we further adjust for the fact that more than 9 in 10 teacher perpetrators are male, while all priest perpetrators are male, there were .77 male teachers who lose their license each year for sexual misconduct for every 1,000 male teachers employed.

"The rate of sexual misconduct among male teachers is about as high as among male priests. And given that we are comparing license revocations for teachers to allegations for priests, the rate of misconduct among male teachers may be considerably higher than among male priests. As the AP story notes, relatively few instances of teacher sexual misconduct result in a license revocation."