Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Have you heard about the Pennsylvania teacher under fire for blogging about her students? While she didn’t name the students and the blog was intended for friends and family, Natalie Munroe has been suspended with pay and isn’t backing down from what she wrote.

“My students are out of control,” Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. “They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.”

And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — quotes from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie”: “Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS.”

She also listed some comments she wished she could post on student evaluations, including: “I hear the trash company is hiring”; “I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son”; and “Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”

Some people are saying Munroe has no business being a teacher; others are praising her for telling it like it is. Me, I think teachers are human and allowed to get frustrated. It’s unfortunate that she chose to vent on a blog, but I don’t think this should mean the end of her teaching career.

What do you think about this teacher train wreck?

We’ve talked before about the Mean Girls phenomenon, and I for one am SO glad those days are behind me.

Not so fast, according to this article, which says the Mean Girl phenomenon is alive and well among the senior citizen set.

“It’s kind of an institutional thing,“ says gerontology expert Robin Bonifas, an assistant professor at Arizona State University School of Social Work, who’s currently researching senior-to-senior bullying. “It tends to take place in senior centers or nursing homes or assisted living facilities, places where they’re spending a lot of time and need to share resources, whether it’s chairs or tables or TV stations or staff attention.“

Mary Noriega, a 64-year-old from Phoenix, says she has had run-ins with a group of “mean girls“ at the senior complex where she and her husband moved a year and a half ago.

“I’ve endured a lot of bullying,“ she says. “There’s a clique here of probably 20 women and they feel they control the property. I’m their kicking stone.“

Noriega says the women in the group gossip about her (“One piece of gossip that went around was that we’d been evicted from our last apartment,“ she says); spread lies about her; discourage other residents from befriending her and give her dirty looks whenever she tries to use community facilities, like the rec room.

“No one should have to deal with the harassment I’ve endured,“ she says. “The first six months I lived here, I used to sit in my apartment and just cry. I’ve never dealt with anybody like this before.“

While explanations mostly boil down to human nature in all its flawed glory, dementia can also play a role in increased aggression. And of course, sometimes an a-hole is just an a-hole.

There’s also a tendency for people to become more and more uniquely themselves as they age, she says.

“Chances are, if you were kind of a nasty, selfish person throughout your adulthood, you’re probably not going to be the benign grandma type when you’re old,“ she says.

Have you encountered grown-up or even elderly bullies? Do you think personality flaws become more pronounced as we age?

Lastly, my prayers go out to Lara Logan in the wake of her unspeakably horrific attack at the hands of a mob while covering the Egyptian revolution.

Just as awful is the incessant victim-blaming that Logan’s attack has prompted. Scores of trolls and insensitive asshats saying that a blonde, attractive woman had no business being there, and what about her kids? What was she thinking putting her job before her kids?

I have nothing but admiration for Logan’s dogged dedication, and found this CafeMom column spot on.

In a world where moms are told more times than not that we ought to stay in the kitchen, stick close to home, and keep ourselves safe, Amanpour and Logan are doing the opposite. They are purposely going into harm’s way to serve a greater good and they are paying dearly…

Television journalist Bob Woodruff is a father and no one questioned his decision to be in Iraq when he was critically wounded by a roadside bomb. Anderson Cooper was attacked in Egypt and though he isn’t a father, no one mentioned the way he looked or suggested it as the reason he was targeted…

Fear is paralyzing and if someone doesn’t have that holding them back, then more power to them. Logan has courage and strength, and in the end, if bad were to befall her, her son and daughter would know their mother was undaunted by fear, that she was willing to stand up to the naysayers and put her life on the line for the greater good. That isn’t stupid. That is brave, so amazingly brave. She is so much braver than most of us, and rather than piling on her, we should be thanking god that there are people like her who are so willing to sacrifice in order to get information to us.


What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

A study now confirms that kissing “owies” does indeed yield health benefits to children, according to LiveScience.

A teacher in Georgia is being investigated for a classroom project on racism, in which some of the students dressed up in Ku Klux Klan garb, according to the CBS affiliate in Atlanta.

Katy Farber at Non-Toxic Kids published a timely interview on the potential health effects suffered by communities living near the oil spill.

Disney Pixar is releasing iPhone, iTouch and iPad applications for Toy Story 3 on June 15. The applications, which are geared towards children between the ages of 6 and 12, are priced between a dollar and $5 each. Pixar also plans to release Toy Story 3 games for all the major video game consoles like the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox.

I did get to play with the mobile games at Pixar Studios in Emeryville, and what a treat. I wish I had brought Ari and his friends as I know they would have eaten them all up. (I was under the impression it was strictly a press event, but there was one lucky girl there.)

There was a game, similar to a driving game at the arcade, in which you steer Woody on his horse. I played it on an iPhone, and think it is the perfect game to download for our 6-hour plane ride to New Hampshire this summer.

Toy Story 3, by the way, comes out on June 18. It will be in 3D. We love Pixar so we will probably go see it, even though we would have preferred something original rather than a sequel. Have you seen any good kid movies lately?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


The Future of Education: iTeaching?

I admit, that when I hear the concept of “unschooling” or a shift from traditional schooling, I wonder what it means. Is there no structure? What about boundaries for children?

An article in this month’s Fast Company — thanks to DH for pointing it out! — had a fascinating article on the role technology is playing in revolutionizing education. In many parts of the United States and the developing world, preschool and elementary school-aged children are relying on mobile devices like the TeacherMate to learn concepts themselves. This is basically changing the role of teacher to that of a coach and allowing children to more actively learn — on their own.

Check out this description of the TeacherMate, which education reformers are attempting to repeat everywhere:

The TeacherMate, as it is called, is a handheld computer with a four-hour battery life. It runs full-color Flash games on a platform partly open to volunteer developers worldwide, and it can record and play back audio. Julissa Muñoz shyly tells me that she likes this device better than her PlayStation 2 at home. “They have lots of games,” she says. “I like the fireman game,” where exciting music plays as you choose the right length ladder, which sneakily teaches simple addition and subtraction.

Julissa’s teacher, the delightfully named Kelly Flowers, explains that the software on her laptop lets her track each student’s performance. Once a week, when she plugs each student’s TeacherMate into her docking station, she downloads a record of their game play and generates reports for herself as well as for parents. Then she sets the precise skills, levels, and allotted time for the upcoming week. The programs are synced with the reading and math curricula used in the school — right down to the same spelling words each week.

Most important, says Flowers, the TeacherMate works. She privately sorts her kids into three groups based on their reading skills — green (scoring at or above grade level), yellow (borderline), and red (underperformers). “This year, with TeacherMate, I started with 11 greens, 2 yellows, and 7 reds. By the middle of the year, I had just 2 reds. I can move a red to a yellow on my own, but this is my first year moving a red directly to a green. I’ve never seen that much growth in that short a time.” Flowers’s observations are backed up by preliminary University of Illinois research that suggests that reading and math scores in classrooms with TeacherMates are significantly higher than in those without.

Flowers says the kids like the TeacherMate because it gives them a feeling of freedom. “It doesn’t feel like homework,” she says. “They can choose from a whole list of games. They don’t know that I decided what [skills] they’d be working on.” And during the time her class spends with TeacherMates each day, Flowers can devote more focused time and attention to small groups of students.

The TeacherMate, by the way, was created by a parent frustrated with the rote style of learning. The device, which costs $100, was originally released in 12 Chicago public schools with the blessing of now Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and is now being used by 500 schools in 14 states. The TeacherMate’s maker, Seth Weinberger, envisions the software itself being ported to the iPad and iPhone as well as wireless devices on Google’s Android open source platform.

Still, there are challenges to universal adoption, which Fast Company spelled out. One is the price — a paper back book, is way cheaper, for example — and the other is the fear that advertisers will use the devices to get to children. The final challenge is cultural. An older generation of teachers — and parents — may be intimidated by the new technology, especially after years of teaching and learning a certain way.

But, overall, this article painted this as a welcome trend — even for the teachers. The teachers are actually not trained to train the students, and instead, students are encouraged to immediately turn on the devices and get to work. These kids are coming of age during mobile phones and wireless laptops so it is not daunting to them, no matter their cultural backgrounds or income level. From a socioeconomic perspective, it actually levels the playing field.

What’s at issue is a deep cultural shift, a fundamental rethinking not only of how education is delivered but also of what “education” means. The very word comes from the Latin duco meaning “to lead or command” — putting the learner in the passive position. Rabi Kamacharya is an MIT engineering grad who returned to his native Kathmandu from Silicon Valley to found a software company and started OLE Nepal, the network’s most established branch, in 2007. Kamacharya talks about technology putting “children in the driver’s seat” — to overcome the limited skills of teachers: “Even in urban areas, teachers who teach English, for example, do not know English very well. Children are at the mercy of the teachers, who may not be motivated or have sufficient materials to work with. We want to enable them to go forward with self-learning and assessment.”

I, for one, believe in the power of this technology. Even though my husband and I speak only Spanish to our children — and Eli has had very little opportunity to speak English — she has been able to identify all her letters in English since she was 2 years old. Why? The PBS show Super Why, which she now plays religiously on the iPad. The kids have known how to play with our iPhones since they were babies — and they figured it out on their own!

My only concern is how will they learn handwriting. I was disturbed by a little girl mentioned in the Fast Company article who says she sometimes selects the “cursive font” on her school-issued computer, the HP Mini 2140. My reaction was excuse me? Why can’t you write in cursive, young lady? I am an old dog when it comes to handwriting. :)

Otherwise, I will continue to let my kids play with the myriad of gadgets in our home, and hopefully, they will have similar opportunities in school. What say you? How do you feel about “iTeaching” replacing a more traditional teaching style?

In related news, the ever-popular iPad is proving to be a useful device for the disabled, according to the AFP news service.


Should Students Call Their Teachers By Their First Names?

Ari started kindergarten this past week at a Spanish immersion school I helped start.

Up to this point, the students have called their teachers and the head of school by their first names. A mom in our class recently inquired on whether the elementary school students should call their teachers Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. I asked our head of school about it and he told me that at the school in Mexico City he headed, children called their teachers Miss First Name. He said he preferred that children call him by his first name as he saw them as “people.”

Asking around, I found the “naming” protocol differed, depending on where you grew up. Markos said he called his teachers by their first names in San Salvador. Another Salvadoran parent at the school said at his small town in El Salvador, the children called their teachers Niña First Name, or literally, “Girl” First Name. Having grown up on the east coast in the United States — like the inquiring mom in Ari’s class — I always called adults Mr./Mrs./Ms. Last Name. To this day, I address my friends’ parents this way and insist my own children do the same.

The only time I somewhat called an adult by her first name was in Catholic School where we called the nuns Sister Mary, Sister Ann, etc..

OTOH, I have found a much more relaxed view on titles here in the San Francisco Bay Area at work and at school. (Not sure if this is a California thing. You all need to fill me in!) My nanny once complained to me that her children in the Berkeley public schools were allowed to call their teachers by their first names. In the small town she was raised in Mexico, calling your teacher by her first name was considered disrespectful. I allow my children to call our friends by their first names — since they have not complained — but do insist that Ari call his teachers “Maestro/a First Name.” Maestra, by the way, means “Teacher.” Perhaps it is my upbringing, but it does feel wrong to just call them by their first names.

But I have allowed Ari to continue to call our head of school, “Jon,” as that is his preference. Either way, a group of us parents and the head of school feel it is a discussion worth exploring now that the kids are getting older. No one — at least that I know of — brought it up while the kids were in preschool.

What do you think? Should children be allowed to address teachers and other adults by their first names?


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Good morning fellow moms, dads and caregivers!

I am back with your weekly parenting news update. Here are some topics we recently discussed here at MotherTalkers:

There were a couple of Supreme Court decisions that may be of interest. The most recent vindicated a teenager for a strip search she had to endure in school due to a zero tolerance policy against drugs like ibuprofen. But no individual school official was held accountable, according to CNN.

In a previous Supreme Court decision, the justices ordered public school districts to reimburse private school tuition to parents of special needs children — even if their kids never attended a public school, according to the Washington Post. Still, as one special education teacher in the story noted, parents would still have to pay tuition upfront and prove they needed the services in the first place.

We had a long discussion on the ethics of using nanny cameras.

There have been a lot of recession “trend” stories in the media like families cutting up their credit cards and adult children moving back home to save money. In the latter story, we discussed “ground rules” for when adult children move in. Has the economy caused you to have an intergenerational household?

Finally, caregiving fathers are in the news. Our “tessajp” wrote a diary about how 15 percent of all U.S. combat troops are women, largely mothers with stay-at-home husbands. Also, I reviewed a book called The Daddy Shift, which profiled couples with this non-traditional, but increasingly common setup.

We were saddened about the passing of entertainment legends Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. As I mentioned in my open thread, I remember listening to Jackson’s Thriller album on a record player. Also, I had Michael’s juiced up curls, admittedly, not my finest moment. :)

While Charlie’s Angels was before my time, there were many women on our site with fond Fawcett memories — and hair!

I am leaving to the east coast this week to attend my aunt’s funeral and visit my grandmother in the hospital. (Yes, it’s been a tumultuous couple weeks.) There will be no weekly roundup in a week, but I will resume it Saturday, July 11.

Thanks all! What’s up with you?


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Good morning fellow moms, dads and caregivers!

I am back with your weekly parenting news update. Here are some topics we recently discussed at MotherTalkers:

We have discussed the “hygiene hypothesis” before, or whether children actually benefit from having somewhat dirty homes or not bathing every day. Apparently, exposure to dirt and germs helps them build their immune systems. Most recently, the blog Non-Toxic Kids raised a similar question. What do you think? Are we over-the-top when it comes to cleanliness or is this simply a way to justify our messy homes?

There were many studies that came out this week, some very welcomed like this one that says parental and teacher involvement are more important to a student’s academic success than influence from peers. In more depressing, but obvious, news, had an article about how single mothers especially are in danger of burnout as they work a record-breaking number of hours in not very secure jobs and then work their second shifts at home. Here is a final (positive) study: Mothers who talk about people’s feelings and intentions are more likely to raise children with “social understanding,” according to CNN. The study did not include fathers due to their small sample size.

We had a very respectful discussion over a Gallup poll suggesting that more Americans now consider themselves “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.”

For fun, we discussed our “craziest parenting moments.” We were empathizing with this dad in Ohio who admitted he overreacted when he called 911 on his live-in 28-year-old son who would not clean his bedroom. LOL! You know this battle has been going on for years and the son’s belligerence finally pushed him over the edge.

Finally, I will be away with my family all next week to attend my brother-in-law’s graduation. There will be no parenting diary a week from today. I will resume the following Saturday, June 6.

What’s up with you?


Public Vs. Private School Debate Rears Its Head on Slate

Don’t worry, this actually wasn’t a mommy war. Slate actually ran helpful tips how we can all help the public schools regardless of our personal school choices.

Here is what mother and daughter team Patty Stonesifer and Sandy Stonesifer had to say to a west Los Angeles mother who wanted to help the public schools but send her own children to expensive private schools.


Eloise, the public education failure in this country is huge, and fixing it needs to be a national priority. Thirty percent of American eighth-graders never make it to graduation; 1.2 million students will drop out of high school this year. We rank 21st in science education and 25th in math education among the top 30 industrialized nations. As you know, our country’s future requires deep and broad reform of our public school system. I encourage you to follow, learn, and act on key education decisions that affect all students in California, and you can do that through the Education Trust’s West Coast affiliate. On a national basis, you can learn about what is going on across the country and how you can take action related to the three pillars that are part of the Strong American Schools effort (raising American education standards, putting effective teachers in every classroom, and increasing time for learning). There is some limited good news: The stimulus plan included href=”40 billion for schools, and while most of that will go to prop up state investments in education in times of decreased revenue, about $15 billion of it is discretionary for the new secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who plans to use it reward and accelerate education reform efforts….


…(A friend who is an education expert) made the excellent point that accepting the public education system as it is would be a far better example of “letting the government off the hook” than sending your kids to private school. While making the right personal decision about your children’s well-being is important, so is the public responsibility that you have to advocate for all kids in the same way you advocate for your own. And she underscored what research shows (and every parent knows) to be the most important determinant of success at any school: quality teachers. How we ensure the best teachers are attracted and retained in the system, however, is hotly contested. Performance pay, changes in teacher training, better data systems to track student progress, or any of the other numerous teacher incentive programs will require that we begin to make real efforts at reform and track the evidence of what works. The New Teacher Project, started by Michelle Rhee, the current chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools, works to help ensure all kids have access to the highest-quality, effective teachers possible.

In President Obama’s first town hall meeting, his answer to the question “How do we know what makes an effective teacher?” was, by some reports, the most animated exchange. Our education guru says that the most well-meaning parents who flee public schools (and probably even well-meaning parents who have their kids in public schools) often end up unconsciously supporting bad policy decisions when they think they are doing what’s best for kids. One of the best examples of this can be found in your home state of California, Eloise. California pushed through a huge statewide class-size-reduction effort in the primary grades. While it cost the state billions of dollars, the effort actually ended up diminishing teacher quality without showing any clear educational benefits. Though “conventional wisdom” still says that smaller class sizes are the most important factor in a child’s educational success, the only thing the research shows to be anything close to a “silver bullet” is ensuring that children end up with a high-quality teacher for an extended time.

Finally, returning to the dilemma of the parent making the decision one child at a time:It’s important to remember that there are great private schools and great public schools. So rather than worry about one type of school over the other, you should focus on identifying your child’s and family’s needs and do your best to find a school that meets them. The Department of Education’s Guide to Choosing a School for Your Child and the Great Schools site both provide good tools and resources for deciding what factors are important to you and finding schools that meet those needs.

What other tips would you have for Eloise in west Los Angeles?


Teacher Saturation in Illinois

Here is a problem I have not heard of anywhere. If anything, I thought the opposite was true.

Except for bilingual teaching positions, there is a saturation of teacher applications in the state of Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Some school districts are hiring only two percent of their applicant pool.

Illinois is producing thousands more new teachers than public school districts are hiring, an oversupply that affects virtually all subject areas except bilingual education, according to a recent “supply and demand“ report by the Illinois Department of Education. The “overproduction“ is highest in social science.

Statewide, districts also are reporting an oversupply of applicants for English language arts and physical education positions, as well as for elementary school teachers.

The situation may come as a shock to education majors (and their parents), but it is no secret to school officials who say the hiring process has become so intense that hundreds, even thousands, of teacher applicants are weeded out before they get through the school door for an interview.

Schaumburg-based School District 54 had more than 2,500 applications last year for about 100 positions, including 60 classroom teachers, said Andy DuRoss, an assistant superintendent. His district, like others, uses an online screening interview to siphon down the applicant list.

Glenview’s School District 34 had 4,300 applications for 74 positions, so less than 2 percent of applicants were hired for the current year, an official said.

In North Shore School District 112, where Schmeisser works, 3,200 active applications are on file. “We don’t anticipate more than 30 to 40 teacher jobs in the next year,“ said Michael Lubelfeld, assistant superintendent for personnel services.

Even the Chicago Public Schools, where poverty and other urban factors make teaching particularly challenging, has witnessed a surge of applications— 23,568 in 2008-09, double the applications five years ago.

Holy crap.

As this Chicago public school teacher at Open Salon pointed out, it has been incredibly stressful for teachers, who she says, are not being supported in the classroom.

During graduate school, I imagined what my teaching career would be like. I thought that I would get lots of interviews with great schools, and after careful research, would take the job offer that seemed like the best fit. I would have my dream job and it would be amazing.

Instead, I discovered that you take the job offered to you. Period. If you are lucky, it will be a great fit. But more than likely, it will involve stuffing your square peg into a round hole and hoping for the best.

This situation is why our schools aren’t better. There’s no impetus to make the schools better. Principals know that for every disgruntled teacher at her school, there are a billion other teachers dying for a job. So we are all dispensable. Principals can do whatever they want. Teachers, especially new teachers who don’t have tenure, spend most of their time worrying about getting fired.

There is no teacher shortage in Chicago, except for special education and bilingual education. If you are certified in those areas, by all means come to Chicago. But otherwise, don’t bother.

I don’t know many teachers in Chicago who are happy at their jobs. Which is extremely sad. And it’s not the students — the students are not the problem. It’s the administration and the ways the schools are run that make the job so challenging. But if you want to be a teacher, this is what you get. I just have to try to make the best of it.

Later on, this same teacher apologized for sounding “elitist.” Here is why she says teachers need to be supported and what drives her to go to work every morning.

The main point I want to make, though, is that if teachers and students are supported, then no school will be a drop out factory, because the teachers will have the tools to give students the support and skills they need. You give me a school where there is adequate security, small class sizes, and teachers and students who feel like they matter, and I will give you a school where amazing things can be accomplished. I truly believe that.

And I really have tried hard to make clear that I do not think race is the issue with my school. Poverty is the issue. Poverty is bad. No one deserves to be poor. But we don’t care about poor people in this country. We’ve made it seem like poor people deserve their plight, due to their own choices. This makes us not feel bad about the situation. Which is crap. But until we tackle that issue, not a whole lot is going to change.

A comment was made to my last post about my job (on my personal blog), suggesting that I should move or change jobs, since life is too short to be miserable. Life is too short to be miserable. I’m not miserable; I’m frustrated. My students deserve better. I’m not going to quit, because I think this job matters, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. I do believe the job should be better, and can be better, if we as a society are willing to face up to what we have done with our poor. But I’m in this for the long haul.

Are you finding a teacher surplus or shortage in your school district?


A Porn Star On The Playground

I love that old Seinfeld episode where the characters discuss what their porn star names would be. George Costanza’s nom de porn was my fave: Buck Naked.

It’s all fun and games when it’s hypothetical, but how would you feel if you found out the teacher’s aide in your kid’s class used to go by Crystal Gunns?

Louisa Tucks is a cafeteria and playground aide at D’Ippolito Elementary in Vineland, N.J. She also runs youth programs at a local YMCA and is described by at least one colleague as a good role model who is a natural with children.

But last week, district officials received a surprising tip: Tucks is a.k.a. Crystal Gunns, a former adult film star known for her 46GGG breast implants. She retired from the XXX industry in 2003, and by all accounts has been a school employee in good standing since June.

Now that her secret is out, parents are predictably perturbed, and want her gone:

“I understand it’s her personal life, but I don’t feel someone with that background should be working with young children at all,” preschool teacher Maria Martin, who has children at the school, told WPVI-TV.

Others are more understanding, and the school district’s attorney says officials aren’t thrilled, but their hands are tied:

“It’s a constitutional privilege of free expression. She’s employed by the school district, but that doesn’t take away her constitutional rights,” Frank DiDomenico, an associate solicitor for the school board, told The Daily Journal, the Vineland newspaper.

He told the newspaper that during the interview process, the district wouldn’t have had any way to learn about Tuck’s work in the adult entertainment industry.

“There’s no way the board could delve into someone’s private life,” he told the newspaper.

For her part, Tucks is unapologetic.

“If this is about morality, our president-elect has admitted to doing crack, and he’s our president. Does that make him a bad person?” Tuck told The Daily Journal. “Bill Clinton smoked pot. Does that make him a bad person?”

What do you think? Should Ms. Tucks be working with children? Would you want her working at your child’s school? Should people that work with children be held to different standards than, say, a bank teller or a police dispatcher?

As for me, I wouldn’t want her fired or anything, so long as she was doing her job and doing it well. I can’t say I wouldn’t feel a little weird about it, though. Mostly, I think I would have a hard time not staring at her breasts. As Elf would say, those things are GINORMOUS.


Hot for teacher

(Cross-posted at The Workin’ Mom)

As my Babycakes likes to say, “No, no, no” … Let’s not talk about how cold it’s supposed to be (where I’m at in Illinois) this weekend, when we’re trying to hunt for Easter eggs.

Instead, let’s dish about Mary Kay Le Tourneau. Remember her? I still think it’s intriguing to read all the stories about this former elementary school teacher, now famous for having a 10-year affair —
and two kids — with a boy she started having sexual contact with when he was only 12, and she was 34.

They even ended up getting married in 2005, which I thought was even more interesting. I mean, what the heck?!! Can you imagine a 34-year-old woman feeling attraction for a little kid like that? It’s horrible. But I guess I wasn’t outraged. I thought it was disgusting, yes. But I sort of secretly cheered when they ended up getting married so many years later.

I don’t think I would have been so entertained if the tables had been turned — if Mary Kay had been a male teacher who seduced a female student.

Is there is a double standard here? A lot of experts think so.

A story I read online in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says female predators often get lighter sentences than males.Read about it yourself by clicking here.

According to Gordon Finley, psychology professor at Florida International University in Miami, the female is likely to get a suspended sentence. A male is likely to get a 20-year sentence.

He goes on to say this:

“Many of these female teachers who have sex with a child go on national talk shows and say, ‘I was an excellent teacher except I had sex with a 14-year-old.’ It is a hard sell for many people to believe that the punishment should be the same. But they are equally destructive.”

What do you think? How can we better protect our kids against predators of either sex — especially in our schools?

Or, on a lighter note, what are you doing this weekend to celebrate the holiday??? I hope you keep warm, wherever you are. We might be asking the Easter Bunny to hide those baskets and candy-filled eggs inside at our house.