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Virtual Morality


Teacher-in-training Stacy Snyder brought suit against Millersville University, alleging that she was denied her teaching credential because of a picture of herself as a “drunken pirate” on her MySpace page. Snyder is claiming her First Amendment rights were violated, according to ABC News.

Citing unsatisfactory performance and unprofessional behavior, university officials said they would have denied Snyder a degree regardless of the photo. The photo, which officials say promoted underage drinking, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Snyder’s suit, which is scheduled to go to trial on Tuesday, raises questions about teachers’ accountability to students—inside and outside the classroom. Some school districts have begun crafting policies to regulate the virtual lives of their employees, ABC News reports. “Teachers are also considered role models,” said Nora Carr, a spokeswoman for a North Carolina school district that is at work on such a policy.

The risk of having online profiles has prompted teachers associations and school district lawyers to caution teachers about what they put online. The Washington Post recently reported on a wave of teacher profiles featuring content that could be deemed inappropriate by administrators and parents, including strong sexual content, profanity, and discriminatory language.


This is just like going to Chili's and having a margarita. While as a teacher I am an adult and of legal age to drink, and parent and student could be sitting in the both across from me.

You see teachers are the underpaid celebrities. We are in the public eye all the time. Students look up to us even when they don't admit it. When they see pictures of us doing things like drinking the students say, "Mr. or Ms. so and so can do it, why can't I?"

While being a teacher shouldn't destroy our personal lives or take away our right to enjoy a mature drink or two, we have to be reasonable about the choices we make especially when posting to the internet. Just because you can set MySpace or Facebook to private doesn't mean that people can't see it. It just means it is harder to see. Students and professionals alike know how to get around that private setting.

Unfortunately, being a teacher means being responsible about what you say and do, no matter the time of day or the day of the week. It is important to be responsible and remember that as teachers we are role models. I have already seen problems crop up for teachers in my district over comments or pictures posted on my space and viewed by immature children who have misconstrued their intent. Why take a chance with your teaching credential?

The bottomline is be responsible and think about the consequences of your actions! Isn't that what we tell our students? You can choose your actions but not always the consequences!

So teachers are role models and must be held to very strict and high standards? yet students have their role models as movie stars and sports stars and singers... people who often have and lead questionable personal lives?
So does that mean parents will begin to not allow their children to watch movies or sports which have people that have done steriods, drugs, cheated or a long list of other immoral and below standards which they want their children to be privy to?
OK I know I don't want my children to get drunk or do drugs or believe it is okay to do steroids or even further to have eating disorders or to think it is okay that when they get older to have a string of sexual relationships or cheating when in a committed and loving relationship...

IN putting this teacher in big trouble for this one thing- parents are telling their children- it is not ok to make a mistake ever- you have to be perfect, I think If they want an example of her it would be best if they had her give a formal apology and do some public announcements about underage drinking- in her spare time and not be paid for it.

But- let he who has not sinned cast the first stone- or in this case they who did not drink underage at all- be the first to express concern.

Otherwise if they would talk to their kids they wouldn't have to worry about one teacher with one picture.

After all far worse can bee seen in liquor stores and some grocery stores as well as commercials during many sports programs...

To cupiddimples...

The difference? Parents do not have their children sitting in a classroom 6 hours a day for 185 days a year with rock stars, sports stars, etc. Nor do parents wish to see Budweiser ads replacing "Spring Blossoms" posters on school hallway bulleting boards.

It is about respect and morality in teaching. How can anyone take the drunken pirate seriously? I see irresponsible party girl, not a person who made a mature decision.

Kudos to Chris for eloquently describing the relationship between being a role model in a caring profession (especially where children are "incarcerated" under the supervision of said adult) and the right to make free speech choices.

Drunken pirate most likely has a laundry list of dispositional red flags throughout her training program, and I can imagine that the photo was truly the last straw as mentioned. University programs do NOT want to face dismissal of candidates. Who would want to enter into such muddy waters without due cause?

When I am in the classroom, I am the paragon of propriety. When I attend graduation, or extracurricular events, or dances or parties or lock-ins I am the conscientious chaperone. I am there for the kids. But when I go out
-to a club, no less- where underage students are not supposed to be- if I want or need to blow off some steam and get rip-roaring drunk and dress up like a pirate, then as long as I follow all the laws and have a designated driver or take a cab then I am allowed as an overage adult to do so. The message I am sending to students is - nothing, because they are not there. If they are there, I think I would report to the security guards that there were underage kids present and then LEAVE.

Re: comments by tx teacher

As I understand it, the issue is not whether the teacher will "get rip-roaring drunk and dress up like a pirate" in a place where students should not be allowed (questions about the maturity of such a decision aside). Rather, it is the issue of flaunting such behaviors in places where students are likely to see it. Like it or not, students are curious about the personal lives of teachers and will "pry" into them when possible. The teacher in question posted evidence of this behavior HERSELF where students found it. And let's not ignore "the straw that broke the camel's back" issue, either.

As a teacher, there is this mythology that we are to be virtuous at all times. In the so called good old days, female teachers were not to date, had to resign when they got married, or pregnant. My mother had to resign when she was 6 months pregnant with me, she tried to hide me as long as she could. Time to treat FEMALE teachers like other responsible people in society...we are not preparing for cannonization!

What if teachers want to post political opinions? Should they have to get their district's approval for that as well? Private life is just that -- private.

This teacher chose to post a picture of herself on a site that is obviously not known for wise choice making. I do not want her teaching my children. I do not want to call her colleague. As a college professor I detested these so-called future educators who felt they could party all night long, brag about it in class and then wanted to be treated with respect. They didn't behave as an educator should (and we do all know how we expect educators to behave) and they certainly didn't earn respect from this irresponsible behavior. We will only be treated with the respect we earn and posting pictures of ourselves as drunken pirates does not fill me with pride. This 'teacher' would be better off getting a job where her impact on young adults or children is limited.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

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  • Christina S Mona: What if teachers want to post political opinions? Should they read more
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  • Scott, Cincinnati: Re: comments by tx teacher As I understand it, the read more
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