High School Teacher Under Fire for Breastfeeding in Class

high school teacher breastfeeding in class

There’s a school controversy heating up in Poyen, Arkansas, ever since a high school teacher began breastfeeding her baby in class. Students say their teacher has been bringing her infant to class now and then for the past couple of weeks after she returned from maternity leave. One girl complains that they can “constantly hear the baby crying” and that the breastfeeding is a distraction. Others say it’s no big deal at all. So who should the school listen to, the one student who doesn’t like the baby’s presence — or the other students, who say everything’s just fine?

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Poyet is a rural town with a population of just 290 or so. The superintendent of the school says he allows teachers to bring their children to school in emergency situations, but while the school didn’t have a specific policy regarding babies in the classrooms, it’s typically expected that teachers would find childcare.

One student says this of her teacher’s breastfeeding:

It's a distraction, especially since we have a bunch of teenage boys in there.

She also claims the baby cries all the time, which is disruptive to the class. Another student says she has no issue with the teacher bringing her baby to school:

The baby just lays back there and plays with its toys, every now and then it may cry, but she goes back there and takes care of it. I mean it's a cute baby and I don't think it's a distraction at all.

Boy, this is a tough one. On the one hand, I feel bad that the teacher almost certainly will be told she can’t bring her child to class anymore, now that a complaint has gone public. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was faced with the challenge lots of working moms do, where childcare was more expensive than her limited salary could support, and she figured bringing the child in now and then would be better than taking more time off work.

On the other hand ... well, most of us don’t bring our babies to the office, do we? I have no issue with her breastfeeding — I can’t really imagine how it would have been too horrifying for a teenage boy to witness, since I doubt she was, say, removing her shirt in class and parading around topless — but the bottom line is that babies are pretty needy and it’s almost impossible to give work your full attention while you’re caring for a young infant.

In a pinch, bringing your kid to work should be fine. We should be generous with working moms, because family-friendly policies benefit us all. But there are boundaries we all have to deal with, and that’s why securing childcare or asking for schedule changes so we can be home more often if that’s what’s needed seems preferable to trying to make every working environment a place for babies.

I do feel for the teacher, though. I’m sure she was stuck between a rock and a hard place and it’s too bad we don’t have longer maternity leaves like most other countries do.

What do you think about this story? Do you think the teacher made a poor choice?


Image via _-o-_/Flickr

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