Elizabeth Davies: It’s youths’ responsibility to respect teachers

Elizabeth Davies

It might come as a surprise to today’s students, but making fun of a teacher is nothing new. Yup, we did it, too. Our target? Any teacher who had the guts to show up with bad breath, out-of-date clothes or who just had the gall to send us to detention.

Back then, we were pretty quiet about our disrespect. We knew that making fun of an adult was wrong, and that life would be pretty miserable should we get caught in the act.

That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Disrespect for adults is more blatant, intentional and

aggressive.

And it needs to stop.

In cases across the country, students have been punished by school administrators for posting false, derogatory, or downright cruel and inappropriate things about their teachers. They are showing up on blogs and MySpace and Facebook pages.

Getting punished made those students predictably angry. But rather than take the punishment they deserved, they turned around and sued the schools.

The truly outrageous part? Courts actually have been divided on the issue. Some judges are ruling on the side of the students, saying that administrators have violated their right to free speech by punishing them. They say the students didn’t make the comments at school or on school computers, so they are free to say what they want from the privacy of their homes.

Give me a break.

The true issue at hand isn’t about student rights. It’s about responsibility. Just like drawing a parody of a teacher in class is wrong, so is speaking ill of her on Facebook. You might have the right to do that, but it’s clearly irresponsible and downright stupid.

It appears that what we want is a generation of self-centered, arrogant adults who lack the ability to shoulder any sort of personal responsibility. That is, after all, what we’re asking educators to teach our children when we tie their hands in this way.

Consider for a moment that these students went on to land a job (assuming, for the sake of the example, that someone actually wants to hire a self-centered, arrogant adult). What if they posted these same words about their employer? What if they made their boss out to be a drunk, suggested the CEO was a Nazi or made up a mock obituary for their co-workers?

Should they expect to still have a job the next day?

That kind of garbage doesn’t fly in the real world. Free speech doesn’t protect us from the consequences of our stupidity.

It’s time that we let educators do their jobs — without the constant complaining and second-guessing that so often happens when our kids come home with their feathers ruffled. And it’s time that schools be allowed to clamp down on students who are disrupting others from doing their “job” of getting an education.

No doubt, it’s a hard lesson to learn, this course in respect. But we have to stop making excuses for the bad behavior of children.

It’s our job to correct it before they become adults.

Contact Elizabeth Davies at edavies@rrstar.com.