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Teacher 'files' will become facebook fodder

Hunting for trouble

You will become a troll. You won't mean to — but you will. 

Like most things online, the ability to dig deeper into an Alice in Wonderland abyss will suck you in.

The province is proposing new legislation so we can all see the teaching records of Alberta teachers. Not just the educators involved with our own children. Heck you won't even need to have kids to be able to have a lookey-loo, if it's based on the BC and Ontario registries already in place. You can simply "browse" ... or "creep" will likely be a better term ... any teacher you want.

Without knowing names of any teacher in British Columbia, a few clicks on their site will show you that three recent educators have been reprimanded, fired and even charged for a wide-range of items. One male teacher had a posting on Craig's List looking for companionship and became involved in a police investigation, another allowed students to look at what was deemed to be inappropriate material brought into class by a student, another had a very loud classroom and let kids go to a nearby skate park.

The first two are no longer teaching. The last one was reprimanded and continues to teach with the caution on her public record.

Who are these people entrusted to our most innocent generation, we might ask? And why didn't we know about them before?

Well, for starters, their actions don't directly affect your children, or the children of your neighbours ... or just about anything in your immediate circle of life. But once you know ... well, it's more information, right? Of course, it has no real contextual connection to how we live our lives in northeastern Alberta — but it could, if and when we have unfettered access to our local teachers' files.

And that is the main problem with the province's new plans to create the registry; it won't be regulated. Like almost all other online files, folders, landing pages and programs, it will be up to the user to decide how much they want to ingest and understand and belive.

We will again become the judges and juries to information that, in this instance, has been handled significantly well by the schools, their administrators and education professionals. Bad teachers, questionable conduct and public complaints are serious matters that have been handled by professionals in the field. If a school staff member has done something wrong, they need to be punished — by those affected, not by random warriors. Nobody wants a bad teacher in their child's classroom. The same way we don't need an ignorant troll making things worse.

Letting the average member of the public pick and choose their next 'target' for opinion-based scorn will have about the same outcome as letting the average member of public decide which medical treatment best cures a pandemic.

Watching how poorly we have handled the massive amounts of information we now have access to, as we head toward this latest file share, should be — as our educators like to say — a teachable moment.