We are, supposedly, in the middle of a campus rape epidemic. A much-bandied (although woefully inaccurate) statistic is that one in five women will experience sexual assault while on a college campus. One would think the proclaimed concern for women on college campuses would also apply to young women and men (not to mention girls and boys) before high school graduation.
A new video project exposing how teacher’s union officials respond to child abuse from guerrilla filmmaker James O’Keefe and the collective yawn from the Left in response proves just how ideologically inconsistent many who discuss the campus rape epidemic are. If grown women need and deserve our protection, so too do children.
In every public school in the country, a huge portion of the workforce that directly engages with students is exempt from concerns about being fired. The vast majority of these individuals—teachers—are a force for good.
There is, however, a not-insignificant minority who were drawn to the profession because of summers off, benefits most Americans could only dream of, and the guarantee of a job for life, all protected by collective bargaining. These bad eggs often end up in “rubber rooms,” especially in my hometown of New York City, where teachers accused of abuse continue to receive sometimes six-figure paychecks and accrue pension benefits while not actually teaching children.
One of O’Keefe’s latest videos shows a health teacher offering undercover journalists cocaine. Another shows multiple union officials being informed of child abuse and instructing those responsible for and aware of the abuse to stay quiet and hope victims don’t come forward. Not only are these teachers protected by their union, but in this case, they have the muscle of the local police department as well. In retaliation for his investigation, O’Keefe, who isn’t exactly beloved in the deep-blue tristate area, met a lengthy public lashing by the police chief on the police department’s Facebook page.
Tenure Means You Can Never Fire Me
The abuse video from O’Keefe’s organization, Project Veritas (disclosure: O’Keefe and I are old friends from our college days at Rutgers University), shows a teacher’s union official advising O’Keefe, whom she believed was a teacher, how to lie about abuse and absenteeism to retain his teaching job.
The video shows O’Keefe, posing as a Yonkers teacher, telling officials with the Yonkers Teacher Federation he has abused an African-American student while using a racial epithet, and ran off on the job on an unplanned and illegal (teachers cannot take more than three consecutive vacation days during the school year) trip to Mexico. On the subject of abuse, one union official told O’Keefe “You don’t have to be honest. I mean, we can talk in theory… You’re a tenured teacher and you have—tenured means you can only be dismissed if the board convinced a stranger that they’re right.”
Not only do teachers have the power of tenure to fall back on, but they also have a well-funded group of individuals working to keep teachers employed (and, thus, paying union dues), no matter what. Students have nothing of the sort. The arrangement is something that would likely be a pet issue for liberals: a David and Goliath situation in which defenseless children are the David and a powerful group of elders in a position to abuse.
A similar scenario involving the Catholic Church has captured our society’s attention for decades, justifiably. While there is likely not the same number of victims, the basic players are the same: abused children, adults, and a powerful and rich group protecting the abusers. A simple Google News search for “teacher abuse” shows the phenomenon isn’t isolated to a handful of cases in the case of teachers.
Most frightening about the O’Keefe video is the possibility of countless other stories not being reported thanks to the power of teacher’s unions (who, in turn, fund Democratic politicians en masse). The cards are stacked against students and their families: in a battle of he-said she-said, families don’t stand a chance facing an opponent incapable of being fired in most instances, a powerful and wealthy union fighting his case, and an entire political party that relies on the support of the aforementioned unions to keep getting elected.
While the City of Yonkers appears to be taking O’Keefe’s sting seriously, the union officials filmed are likely not unique to their profession, which is known for thuggish behavior in many instances. Given how calmly these officials reacted to the possibility of an abusive and negligent teacher in their midst, teachers similar to those O’Keefe pretended to be could also be numerous. If the Left wants to have any semblance of credibility on sexual abuse, subsequent video exposes should be treated with the seriousness they deserve before a national scandal erupts and puts the issue on the front pages.