Well, it appears someone at the Texas Education Agency has taken the phrase "fight fire with fire" quite literally.
In order to combat predatory behavior by Texas teachers, the TEA has done the only thing that makes sense: They've released a series of videos on teacher-student ethics that are just about as creepy as the problem they're trying to tackle.
But hey! Those creepy training videos are done in a clever sitcom style, so it's fine.
The videos, entitled "Texas Education Agency Teacher Ethics Training Modules," are an obvious riff onThe Office
, and focus on helping teachers make the right choices when it comes to student-teacher relationships, among other things.
There are modules on boundaries and social media, featuring leering, motorcycle-riding teachers, that depict how not to flirt with a student or how not to touch a student. And yes, these videos are about as strange and unsettling as they sound.
Take, for example, the conversation that happens between the principal and a teacher on the boundaries module. The teacher has seen another teacher -- who she really believes is a good teacher, by the way -- with a student on his lap. Multiple times. Here's how it goes:
The teacher: "A few times lately I've seen him with a student on his lap."
The principal: "Oh boy."
The teacher: "I gave him a warning the first time, but it happened again yesterday..."
It seems that through this awkward situation, the TEA would like teachers to learn that reporting creepy teachers is required after giving a first warning -- even in a situation where a teacher has a student sitting on his lap. Okay then.
So that's an unnerving way to kick things off, right? Well, it gets weirder.
The next ethical dilemma the TEA wants to warn about is explained by a hot, guitar-playin' female teacher. As the teacher hops on her motorcycle in front of the school (as most badass guitarist teachers do), a male student, who has declared said teacher is "hot" earlier in the video, asks for a ride.
The teacher hesitates, but ultimately gives in, handing over her purple-graffiti'ed helmet because safety is always first, obviously. The skinny teen hops on and hugs her around the waist, winking at one of his friends.
Apparently the lesson here is that there is nothing sexier, or possibly more dangerous, than having a teen boy riding bitch on the back of your bike while holding you tightly as another student stares on. So don't do it.
And just in case those two lessons aren't enough, there's a creepy band director thrown in the mix to round things out.
The band dude is pretty much the sketchiest thing about these videos. He's obviously got a crush on a female student who is wearing pigtails. In high school. She's a flute player in the band, and she's super-nervous about a competition.
But don't worry! Super-creepy band director knows just how to help her nerves. All she has to do is sit with him -- though not on his lap -- on the way to the competition. He pulls up pictures of his ex-wife on his phone, comparing the two, and even gives her a gift that he signs.
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Well, his wife and her mom get word of the flirtation, and they both show up at school to confront him. Ultimately, it's all just deemed to be innocent flirtation, but the damage is done. The teachers at the school now have to sit through an ethics video, which is so ironic and very Office-ish, right?
Nah, it's still creepy.
While the TEA deserves some credit for thinking outside the box, this module has to be slightly demoralizing to teachers. After all, surely the folks charged with educating the next generation know that there are boundary issues with having a student ride on the back of your motorcycle or sit on your lap. Come on.
Also, considering that legal ramifications aren't always deterrents for predatory teachers, there's probably about zero percent chance that these creepy training modules will work to deter them either. They may convince them to go buy a sweet graffiti helmet just in case, though.