Teacher Fired for Drinking on Facebook Isn't the Real Problem


wine corkThis just in. Parents don't want human teachers anymore. The ideal teachers are not human. Oh, they put their pants on just like you do. They eat. They sleep. But they never drink. Oh no, never. Uh uh.

OK. OK. That's a lie. We all know teachers love their wine as much as the rest of us. They put up with our kids all day. They deserve it. But there's a disturbing trend afoot, and the story of 24-year-old high school English teacher Ashley Payne should be a warning sign for parents.

See, Payne was fired by her school district for being a bad influence to kids. Her big mistake was posting a photo of herself from her summer vacation (read: not during school time) on her Facebook page. In it, she's smiling and holding aloft a glass of wine in one hand, a Pilsner glass of beer in the other.

Although the page was marked private, somehow it got leaked anyway, and a parent lodged a complaint. Payne is currently fighting with her Georgia school district over what was, in effect, her firing for this "egregious" act.

Her story is being cast as a problem with Internet privacy. I see something more. Parents are terrified of alcohol. But instead of talking to their teens about it, they're passing the buck. And so teachers are being penalized for being, well, human beings.

In Payne's case, it was a ridiculously innocuous photo on her private Facebook wall (where students were not allowed, by the way). But the next step is to keep teachers locked away inside their own homes. They can't go out to eat like the rest of humanity because what if a teen is out to dinner with Mom and Dad and sees Mrs. Jones across the way, enjoying a gay old Valentine's Day with her husband with a very responsible single glass of pinot noir? And forget a run to the supermarket to stock up on beer for the neighborhood barbecue. My child might be the checkout boy that day. You can't possibly expect me to teach him that purchasing massive quantities of alcohol does not necessarily mean you are going to single-handledly drink said massive quantity.

Teachers have some of the most constant contact with our teens on a day-to-day basis. They have a real opportunity to impact our teens positively, especially at an age when kids are moving farther from mom and dad and are more willing to take another adult's viewpoint. But what makes them so good with our kids is the breadth of experience they bring to the job. They're not automatons but human beings, who have real lives outside the walls of a high school.

At some point, parents need to realize that teachers can only do so much for kids. We need to pick up the slack too. And if that means teaching our kids that Ms. Payne is a responsible 24-year-old legally having a drink on her summer vacation, that's a parent's responsibility.

What would you have done if this was your child's teacher?

Image via Derek Gavey/Flickr

drugs & alcohol, family, school


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frysh... fryshannon34

This is COMPLETE bullshit!If She should be able to have a life outside of work

Heart... HeartCharmMama

If this was my child's teacher, I would have minded my own f#cking business and would have told other children's parents to do the same.

nonmember avatar Anon

I'd have to see the photo and know how it got "leaked" in order to judge the school's action. I do think teachers and other role models need to be careful even in their personal life. I do NOT believe there is anything wrong with a person over 21 drinking alcohol. But was there something else that offended? I frankly don't trust the reporting here to be complete. But if she really was merely responsibly enjoying an adult beverage, I hope she gets the decision reversed.

kisse... kisses5050

 Was she holding the glasses topless while stomping a baby harp seal with her stiletto heel? Then we may have a problem.

Seriously though, teachers are held to a higher "moral standard" sad and unfair but true. it is a profession that comes with a vow of poverty Chasity and obedience...

momto... momtothemax2910

I would stand up for her and go to a board meeting to protest the way she is being treated.

itzmyzoo itzmyzoo

i have one of boys teachers on my FB holding an alcholic beverage!  OMG!!  she was his BEST teacher!  i agree with PP, i would protest!!!

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Anon - the picture is in the article that Jeanne linked to - it's exactly as described.

But also, crap like this is exactly why Facebook sucks and I don't understand why any thinking person uses it.  This picture was innocent enough, but people are idiots about what they put out there for people to see, and even bigger idiots to think private means private - if you have even one friend with access, whatever you post IS NOT SECURE.

bills... billsfan1104

Its sad that something as private as a vacation and not on school time, and the pictures can get you fired. Unfortunetly, it is happening because of all the teacher sex scandels. And she should know better. I make sure my daughter is very careful of what she posts online, because I do not want college recruits to deem something that is innocent, to be something inappropriate. I feel for her. I hope she gets her job back, and fights this stupid ruling.

Hime84 Hime84

This is messed up. really. She was on vacation, on her own time. There is no reason she should have been fired.

mommix4 mommix4

That's sad. When I taught preschool I'd go out to bars with the students parents. They knew I had a life and I'd never teach drunk.

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