When the media erupted in its usual ‘Yellow Journalism‘ fashion after James Hooker (age 41) quit his job as a public school teacher, and left his wife and children to shack up with former student Jordan Powers (18), my first thought was that he was going to be the victim of a witch hunt, because there is a double standard when it comes to teachers.
And I was right.
According to the law in California, 18 is the age of consent where one is considered responsible for his or her own decisions and actions in life.
For example, at 18, one may join the military and die for America.
That’s what I did after I graduated from high school, but I didn’t die. After Marine Corps boot camp, at the age of 19, I was sent to South Vietnam, where 58,269 American troops were killed in combat and 153,303 were wounded of the 2.6 million US troops that served there. The average age of a soldier in Vietnam was 19, and more than eleven thousand under the age of 20 were killed.
Why aren’t more mothers protesting this choice by their adult children?
For Powers, when she turned 18, instead of joining the Army or Marines to fight/die in Afghanistan or another foreign country, she chose to live with Hooker, her former teacher from an earlier school year. She dropped out of school and he quit/lost his job, which is what happens to most public school teachers that have an affair with a student that is age 18 or older. If the student is under age 18, the older teacher usually ends up in jail.
However, now a Republican California legislator by the name of Kristin Olsen has introduced Bill 1861 to make it a felony for a teacher to have a romance with a student, even if the student is over 18.
In fact, Mercury News.com reported, “Power’s mother … continues to lobby for a bill introduced by Modesto Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen that would make it a crime for high school teachers to date students of any age.”
In addition, there are currently 23 states that make it a felony for a teacher to date a high school student even if the student is 18 or older.
No wonder America has more people in prison than any other country in the world. If California’s Bill 1861 becomes a law, it will focus only on teachers. This means if Powers moved in with a 41 year-old fireman, policeman, used car salesman, lawyer, doctor or a corporate CEO, while she was still a senior in high school, that would be legal.
If Bill 1861 passes in the state legislature, an eighteen-year-old high school student such as Powers may have a boyfriend age 18 or older, and change them daily as long as the man isn’t a public school teacher.
By focusing on teachers, Bill 1861 is discriminatory. Leaving his wife and children at age 41 and giving up his job to live with an 18 year old might be poor judgment on Hooker’s part, but it is not illegal and never should be no matter the opinions of mothers or others.
In fact, The Economist published a piece on this topic called Rough Justice in America—Too many laws, too many prisoners. Never in the civilized world have so many been locked up for so little.
The Economist reported, “Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country… America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan… Half the states have laws that lock up habitual offenders for life. In some states this applies only to violent criminals, but in others it applies even to petty ones. Some 3,700 people who committed neither violent nor serious crimes are serving life sentences under California’s ‘three strikes and you’re out’ law.”
Currently in California, a teacher can only be charged with a felony for engaging in a relationship with a student who is under 18 years of age.
Did you know that 60% of public school teachers leave the profession in the first five years and never return? If California’s Bill 1861 becomes a law, that will be one more reason to stay away from the classroom because too many laws makes it a very risky profession—anger a student or a student’s mother, lose a job and possibly go to jail for a long time—all in the name of love with a consenting adult.
Continued on April 12, 2012 in Part 2 of the Mob’s War against Teachers
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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