Once a teacher has job protection and has taught more than two or three years without being found incompetent, it is reasonable to assume that a teacher may be the victim of slander or there may be another compelling reason why a teacher that was found competent for years or decades suddenly appears incompetent.
According to Personal Injury Lawyer.com, “Defamation is defined as an untrue statement which causes you to be held in contempt or ridicule and as a result causes you damages.… Truth is a very good defense. It may prove an unshakable defense if you have unlimited funds to pay lawyers to defend it.”
This is where the teachers union steps in and provides the legal protection to defend a teacher that may be innocent of incompetence.
In fact, when a veteran teacher is accused of incompetence after being in education for decades and earning positive annual reviews, he may be a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which The American Society for Ethics in Education says is, “The Hidden Epidemic in our Nation’s Schools. While formal studies have yet to be undertaken, post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) appears to impact a significant number of teachers…”
How Does PTSD Affect Brain Function?
In addition, Heal My PTSD says there is job protection for those that are suffering from this trauma. “In many instances, time off to deal with a medical condition is covered under the government’s FMLA law. If your employer meets the criteria and you are willing to do the paperwork, the law may protect you from losing your job when you need time off.”
In the case of a teacher that appears to be incompetent while really suffering from job related stress and PTSD, it becomes a disability, which the Veteran Administration recognizes for combat veterans.
Instead of conducting a witch-hunt and attempting to remove job protection for teachers, the critics of public education should be offering the same support our military combat veterans receive for stress related job injuries such as PTSD.
If these religious/political critics are unwilling to do this, then we should be asking who is behind this assault on public school teachers and why?
The truth may be that incompetent parents are the reason students do not learn, but how do you fire an incompetent parent?
Return to Due Process – Part 3 or start with Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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October 30, 2011 at 06:06
I think you may well have saved a life…mine. I’m just a “little teacher” of science, crushed a veterbrae at work,went thru terrible years of operations etc. I returned full-time, put heart n soul into 7 hard weeks. Students doing well on all parameters. Principal, Neil Simpson, asked me to stop by for 2 min chat….2 hours later he LET ME out of his office after verbally and sexually intimidating me…result by TOP DR PTSD…His response…you useless teacher, we dont want you…..horrible…you are now on program to improve…..STORY familiar????30 years of teaching and not once have I been negated, often complemented…References from Head Teacher and Science teacher at same school…commending my skills,committment, etc, valuable….I went back and was crucified daily by Acting Head (a woman whom I had caught smoking a bong?) told I stank daily…#300 non-allergenic worn it every day of my working life……YOU STINK….YOU R USELESS….PTSD 2+ ANXIETY + DEPRESSION plus what the hec is going on. I dont drink,do drugs and go to church…They laughed at me…..I have lost my confidence as amother and teacher and the world…am i entitled to be alive?????
October 30, 2011 at 15:58
Chrissy wrote, “30 years of teaching and not once have I been negated, often complemented…References from Head Teacher and Science teacher at same school…commending my skills,committment, etc, valuable…”
You served your country in a tough, demanding job as a classroom teacher (should be called warrior since it may often seem like a war zone depending on the school where one works) for three decades. Yes, you are entitled to be alive and be treated with respect from your school’s adminstrators. I hope you kept copies of all your positive evaluations during those thirty years. I was told early in my teaching career to keep copies of everything and I did. The schools are a “politically correct” jungle.
If you are a member of either teachers union (NEA or AFT), I suggest you set up an appointment with the local rep that works for the union. If he or she feels you have a case, then the union rep should refer your case to the state office of the union or even the national. If the union’s lawyers agree, then they will represent you to get these administrators off your back, put some fear into them and leave you alone until you are ready to retire on your own time.
I’ve known good teachers that were treated as you have been treated and if you fight back, these bullies usually back off and sometimes if the district gets bad press, administrators may lose their jobs since they do not have the level of job protection that teachers do. Until the federal government takes away teacher job protection, use it to protect yourself.
October 31, 2011 at 05:03
Thank you. I am so very grateful for your time and ‘acknowledgement of my existence(as well as contribution). The isolation from PTSD intimiadation and worry, has left me wondering if I am of any worth,have a right to breath, of what on earth warranted such inhumane treatment. So sorry to have off-loaded. Union are involved but Ive been through two events of PTSD+anxiety(nervous system shot-brain synapses-mal-function+++) No treatment at present so filling in forms and re-living events proving exceptionally difficult. Any suggestions??? I really am just an honest hard-working, somewhat innovative(personality trait-do your best,keep it fun,know your students,positivity always…cry on the way home!!) Feel so flattered you responded, and really look forward to keeping up with your thoughts…very stimulating,inspirational and Im sure a path full of interesting tangents..many thanks. chrissy
October 31, 2011 at 08:03
When it comes to PTSD, the research on teachers and PTSD is in its infancy and few studies have been done. What we do know is that the few studies that have been done show us that at least a third of public school teachers suffer from PTSD.
However, where this research has been done is with combat veterans. The VA (American Veterans Administration) has developed methods to identify and rate PTSD. For example, while being evaluated for my PTSD, the VA had me meet with several different individuals who asked questions and talked to me while keeping notes. Eventually, these individuals compared notes and used the VA knowledge base on PTSD to decide the level of my PTSD.
There are also volunteer veteran groups that meet and help each other learn to cope with PTSD. So far, no cure has been found for the damage that PTSD causes but coping mechanisms have been developed so we may live with it without having the PTSD ruin our lives totally.
The only thing I can suggest is looking in the area where you live for a volunteer PTSD support group for combat veterans from the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and see if you can join one of them. The way to find out if any of these groups are in your area is to find the nearest office for a state employed VA Rep. By law, every state must hire, fund and train these agents to help each states veterans to deal with the VA and these offices also have the names and contact information for private, volunteer groups that counsel each other sort of like Alcoholics Anonymous but for victims of PTSD.
Contacting the VA wouldn’t work unless they would tell you where the nearest office of the state VA rep is. The VA is not set up to help civilians but may know who and where the volunteer groupers of combat veterans are that meet to deal with PTSD issues.
I do not hold out hope that one-day public school teachers will also get the same level of care America’s combat veterans are now getting. It is my experience after teaching for thirty years in the public schools in California is that teachers are treated like garbage in this country to be tossed aside when they have been used up and burned out while being blamed for problems they did not create or cause.
So far, through the VA and nonprofit volunteer groups for combat veterans, this is the only area where there is help for people that suffer from PTSD that I know of besides paying more than a hundred an hour with a shrink that has specialized in helping people cope with PTSD and the VA administration is only set up to help combat veterans but the knowledge is there to help others and professionals are learning this knowledge in colleges and classrooms.
Since PTSD was first identified after the Vietnam War, we have come a long way to understand it, identify it and deal with it the best we can so individuals may live productive lives.
October 31, 2011 at 10:21
You asked, “No treatment at present so filling in forms and re-living events proving exceptionally difficult. Any suggestions???”
Keep a journal. Every day when you get home from school, write what happened that day and how you felt. Be detailed and show how you felt and feel. Also write as much of the history that led to this classroom PTSD in the journal first. Writing is a powerful form of therapy.
As for public school district and site administration — a favorite tactic by unscrupulous administrators is to divide and conquered and make the teacher or staff member feel as if they are the only one suffering in an attempt to isolate them while developing a sense of guilt and make them paranoid thus eventually driving them out of the school district.
Another factor to consider. You have been teaching for thirty years, which may mean you are at or near the top of the pay scale. Imagine how much money the district would save by getting you to leave and replace you with some young pup at half the cost. Due to the hard economic times, this is a growing tactic to save money. If this is so, then there will be other veterans such as yourself in the same district suffering similar harassment.
As teachers, we spend most of our days with students and are isolated from other teachers and when other teachers are together they often are talking about their students — not how they feel or what is happening to them. If there is a way for you to find out if other veteran teachers are being treated the same way, then the union may have a class action lawsuit to file.
This was the way I was treated the last few years I was teaching. The administrators struggled to make me feel as if I was the only one suffering. Then I managed to use the Internet and the e-mail addresses each teacher has in his or her classroom to send out a questionnaire. What I discovered was that a quarter of the 100 teachers at the high school where I taught were being treated the same way.
It turned out that we were all being told the same thing that each of us was the only having those problems.
Suddenly we had a group of teachers, which gave us the power of numbers driven by anger. The union became involved and there were mass meetings with the administrators were put on the defensive. District administration was called in and the principal at the time was fired by the district and another principal hired to replace him.
However, make no moves without first seeing what the Union’s legal people say. Even the language you use in an e-mail to the rest of the staff may be turned against you. Tread lightly. If these adminstrators are as ruthless as you describe, they must be approached with kid gloves and caution.
August 12, 2012 at 14:52
I’m another teacher who suffers from PTSD after being assaulted from behind during my first year by a group of boys when walking between buildings at an open air school. I did not have union protection rights in North Carolina because we do not have a union. Furthermore, I had a concussion that forced me out of school for several days due to dizziness and headaches. Though I had some workers comp with that one, I returned to school four days later and was let go. I did not provoke those students and even our outdoor cameras that were just installed caught the assault on tape.
Fast Forward two years later, I’m working in an Elementary School better setting, better classroom and better students. I’m one of the top teachers at my school, great observations, praises by the principals, sent to several conferences, etc. However, one of my students who had a severe behavior and ODD disorder throws a silly putty egg at the same area that I got assaulted at in 2008 which knocks me off balance, and I fall again to the floor and hit my head and nearly snap my neck. I don’t remember fully what happened all I know is that I was rushed to the hospital. They told me I passed out in the ambulance several times, even in the ER, the CT came back negative but I had amnesia for a week, numbness in my left side which continues today, severe headaches, which still continue today and dizziness. I’m dreading going back my first day but I’m wondering if I should go back at all.
August 12, 2012 at 20:26
It sounds as if you suffered a concusion. Have you ever seen the movie “Regarding Henry” with Harrison Ford and Annette Bening?
“It’s the stuff movies are made of. A person suffers a blow to the head then wanders aimlessly, unable to remember who he is or where he came from. While such sudden, profound loss of memory is rare, memory loss is a problem that affects most people to a degree.
“Head injury. A severe hit to the head — from a fall or automobile accident, for example — can injure the brain and cause both short- and long-term memory loss. Memory may gradually improve over time.”
Whether it’s occasional forgetfulness or loss of short-term memory that interferes with daily life, there are many causes of memory loss.
All of these imaging devices such as a CT cannot find everything. If they did, people would not be dying of cancer and heart disease. In fact, many diseases go undetected regardless of CT scans and annual physicals.
My best toward your recovery. No one can tell you to go back to work and it will be okay. Teaching is a tough and challenging job and most people outside education have no clue that many of them would never survive in a classroom full of American children/teens. There is no way for anyone to protect you or guarantee that this sort of thing won’t happen again.
In fact, half of all new teachers quit within the first three to five years and never come back. It’s that much of a challenge. During the thirty years I taught, a year did not go by that I didn’t think about leaving. To be honest, I don’t know how I lasted that long.
July 24, 2016 at 05:22
Reblogged this on dcook4real.