The New York Post reported today that Melissa Petro, an art and writing teacher in the public school system (who they refer to as a “Sexxx-ed teacher”), and who several years earlier had worked as an escort, was awarded tenure.
I refuse, although it goes against my every instinct, to make any Van Halen references here. I just won’t do it. If you’re reading this, I instruct you not to think about the song “Hot for Teacher,” or the video. That’s just not what I’m about as a professional blogger.
So here’s the Post‘s take:
The failure to do even a cursory investigation of educators up for tenure spotlights a major problem with a system that makes it nearly impossible to fire a teacher who’s gotten the coveted perk.
Petro was recommended for tenure last spring, despite her numerous blogs describing herself as a former “stripper” and “sex worker.” The blogs had begun three years earlier and continued throughout the tenure process.
Months before she received final approval, she blogged, “A sympathetic administrator asked if I couldn’t publish under a pseudonym.”
She wrote that she refused in order to protect the “rights and integrity of myself and every other man or woman who makes or has made choices similar to mine.”
Nowhere is it implied that Petro had in any way brought her sexual history or blogging interests into the classroom. She should denied tenure instead because she had, in the past, broken the law and was now publicly discussing it. Make of that what you will. What’s more interesting to me is how papers pick up on trends—this one being criticism of public school teachers and administrations.
Petro’s tenure has nothing to do with a lack of oversight. Nor does it have something to do with the power of the teacher’s union and the way it protects unqualified educators. But the Post can tie her story—which really is about prurient interest and little else—to those contemporary issues and thus fill their pages.
As much as anything, the coverage given to Petro is about content-scarcity in a consumer-driven media environment. Which is boring. As is all the hot air expended over this woman’s past.
And by the way: