Imagine finding out that your child’s teacher had their teaching license revoked in another state because they were busted for sexting a student, or physically abusing a child, or was busted in a child porn sting–what would you say and do?
You would possibly rush to the school principal and begin asking a list of questions such as, “how is it possible that this teacher was eligible to teach again?”, “why didn’t a background check uncover this fact before this teacher was hired?”, and “did you know about this teacher’s past before or after hiring them?”
You probably have plenty of additional questions that you would ask.
USA TODAY NETWORK conducted an investigation and discovered a major flaw in the teacher screening systems used across the U.S. by more than 13,000 school districts. By looking at the databases of certified teachers and disciplined teachers, their research uncovered that:
- Thousands of disciplined teachers were not reported by states to a privately run database which also happens to be the nation’s only centralized system for tracking teacher discipline.
- At least 9,000 educators who were disciplined by state officials are missing from the non-profit clearinghouse, National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification. At least 1,400 of those educators licenses had been permanently revoked, and at least 200 of those revocations were due to allegations of physical or sexual abuse.
- State systems used to check teachers background are plagued by inconsistencies, and this flaw has led to numerous instances of schools not finding out about criminal convictions until after the teacher is already hired and working in the classroom.
Due to their investigation there are a few states who are conducting internal investigations and audits.
Although the number of “problematic” teachers is minuscule (there are more than 3 million teachers in the U.S. and less than 1% have faced disciplinary action) there is still reason to be concerned about this flawed screening system—parents send their children to school with the belief that they will be safe and in no direct threat of predators and abusers of any kind.
Unlike the United Kingdom (and some other countries) the U.S. federal government does not mandate teacher background checks or make sure that states share information about severe abuse cases. This has been left up to states to handle. With so many people screaming “less big government”, it would be interesting to see if they still only want the states left with the responsibility of protecting their children.
The USA TODAY NETWORK investigation uncovered a great deal of information that you should read and share with others. Read more about this investigation here: http://www.usatoday.com/longform/news/2016/02/14/broken-discipline-tracking-system-lets-teachers-with-misconduct-records-back-in-classroom/79999634/