Teachers and the Morals Clause

Down in Texas, it seems some parents have their knickers in a twist over the latest revelation regarding a Spanish teacher at a Dallas-area magnet school.  The teacher in question is Cristy Nicole Deweese.  Seems she has always wanted to be a Spanish teacher, and she is now living the dream.  And now a local mom is leading a crusade to have her removed from the classroom immediately.

Her sin?  When she was 18 years old and in college, Deweese posed for Playboy magazine.  In fact, she was “Coed of the Month” in the February 2011 edition of the mag.  Now her old photos are being circulated and the moral crusaders have kicked in.  Huffington Post has a good recap of the issue here.
Eduflack appreciates that teachers are held to a higher standard than most, particularly in the public eye.  And as a former school board chairman, I appreciate the morals language that is in most educators’ contracts, allowing the school and the school district to look out for the best interests of the community and the students.
But what, exactly, is Deweese’s fireable sin?  As a legal adult (18 years old) she legally posed for a magazine that is legal (for most) to purchase.  She broke no laws, committed no seeable offense.  And even if we might have a personal objection to a choice she made at the start of her adulthood, it was done years before she ever became a teacher.  
I presume that Deweese attended a college of education in Texas, passed her courses, and earned her degree.  She took all the requisite steps to secure a teaching license.  She even managed to impress veteran educators by securing a teaching job in a local magnet school.  She did everything that one asks of those entering the profession.
In all of the articles written on the subject, no one seems to reflect on what sort of teacher she was.  And since the school hasn’t taken action, I’m going to assume she is a pretty good newbie teacher, good enough that no one is acting too rashly.
I get that some folks, particularly down in the Lone Star State, may have problems with Playboy and the magazine’s industry in general.  But that’s hardly a reason to trash this woman’s career before it even starts.  Sure, there are pictures out there.  But at the end of the day, they aren’t much different than the pictures one sees of coeds on Facebook or Instagram or Flickr.  The world is changing, and folks just share too much of those images to begin with.
What’s next?  The new president of Cinnabon was a Hooter’s waitress to put herself through college.  Should we now boycott our cinnamon buns because she once wore tight orange shorts and a low-cut top when she was slinging wings?  I’m guessing there are photos of that too.
With so much we need to worry about to ensure that our kids are getting the public educations that they both deserve and we all should feel obligated to provide, can’t we start focusing on what is really important?  Can’t we focus on her skills and abilities as a teacher?  Are we really saying that the (legal) things we did or said or captured when we were 18 are now grounds from keeping us from our chosen professions and personal paths once we become more responsible adults?
Let Cristy Nicole teach.  Who knows?  If all this means just a few more boys pick up Spanish language skills, we might be thanking her for it later.

115 thoughts on “Teachers and the Morals Clause

  1. If we take this in its simplest terms, we have an adult doing something perfectly legal and the school judging it as unacceptable.This happens *constantly*, and one of the best examples is codes of conduct for student athletes. When I was in high school we had to sign a contract that prohibited a laundry list of behaviors that included consuming tobacco products.I’m not advocating for high school kids to smoke and chew — but the law allows for an 18 year old to purchase and consume those products if he wishes. How can a school be a higher authority than state or federal law?

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