Another day, another bunch of parents poking their nose into the private life of a high school teacher. We get it, they shape young minds! But they've also got minds of their own! And in the case of Judy Buranich, Pennsylvania high school English teacher by day, erotica author by night, it's a relatively naughty mind.
Not that you'd know it in the classroom. Buranich has been careful to use a pen name, Judy Mays, in the years that she's been writing romance novels so kids wouldn't easily identify her, and parents have called her a "top-notch" teacher. But those same parents are some of the ones calling for her head on a platter this month because "the two jobs are not compatible with one another."
I have one question for you, America. Why not? Why is it so hard to imagine our kids' teachers walk out the door at the end of the day and back into their own lives?
Let's set aside the mere fact that writing erotica is no more a sign of depravity than, say, liking fishnet stockings or owning a vibrator (which, by the way, HALF OF AMERICA does). Let's set aside these prudish parents who could learn a thing or two from the words of Judy Mays on loosening up and learning to accept that sex is a natural part of life -- and a pretty darn nice one for that matter.
Because the story comes down to what Buranich does inside the classroom. She teaches, and she's apparently good at it. In fact, she has a talent with the English language that's earned her a decent living to augment the notoriously crappy teacher's pay. Those lucky kids! A good English teacher can make all the difference when it comes to getting into college. A good English teacher changed my life -- I wouldn't be doing what I am now if it wasn't for her.
But anyone who has ever been through school knows that not every teacher has that gift. There are a lot of bad teachers, even more mediocre teachers, and just a few great ones. Those great ones are the ones a school district should hold on to with both fists, for the sake of the students, for the future of a community.
What the people in the Midd-West School District need to ask themselves is not "am I grossed out by erotica" but "does what Judy Buranich do outside of the classroom affect these kids" followed quickly by "does what Judy Buranich do INSIDE the classroom affect these kids." Chances are, the latter matters more than the former.
Would you be bothered if your kid's English teacher wrote some dirty stories on the side?
Image via Max Wolfe/Flickr