Thursday, February 2, 2012

Systemic Failure: The LA Teacher Scandal

You may have heard of the LA teacher accused of binding and gagging his students, covering them in roaches, and then feeding them his .... sorry it's too disgusting. If you wondered how he could get away with this for so long, you are not alone. The LA Unified Schools superintendent is curious too.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy has launched an investigation into how a veteran teacher charged with 23 counts of lewd conductwith current and former students could have escaped suspicion for so long. 
Former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, 61, is accused of gagging students with tape, blindfolding them and spoon-feeding his semen to some current and former students in his classroom, in what he described to the children as a “tasting game.” He took hundreds of photos of the children, many with a milky substance around their mouths, authorities said. 
The lewd conduct charges cover a period from July 1, 2005, to June 28, 2011. Most of the alleged crimes occurred from mid-2009 to mid-2011. 
“How do I make sense out of the fact that this took place over a number of years and no one seemed to know about that?” said Deasy in an interview Wednesday morning. “I want to understand it. I’m definitely trying to understand how someone could not have known.”
Can we just make something abundantly clear? If this had happened in, say, a Catholic church...or Abu Ghraib... of a Duke University frat house...or, God help us, Guantanamo, we would be hearing all about systemic failures, and cultures of corruption from the same loudmouths who are responding to this bizarre torture of children with little in the way of loudmouthing and much in the way of deafening silence. 
I know, I know. Most teachers are hard working, self-sacrificing paragons who would never torment their charges in such a manner. But, we all know that the "good" teachers are happily participating in a system that protects guys like Berndt, a system so protective of its rights and prerogatives that Berndt's bosses can't even withdraw the guy's retirement bennies. The system failed the kids, but it's not going to stop the flow of $$ to their abuser. 

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