Are Teachers Treated Unfairly For Sipping & Posting Online?
Teachers are finding themselves under more scrutiny these days as technology becomes more advanced, and social media becomes increasingly popular. School districts around the nation are incorporating morality clauses that prevent teachers from drinking and posting online or even befriending their students on social media.
On Tuesday, August 16, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia, we held an intellectual conversation with dozens of educators to discuss their candid thoughts on “Cocktails & Educators: Can Teachers Sip & Post? #TIPSYTEACHER.” On the panel were Dr. LaTonya Martin, teacher of Atlanta Public Schools; Dr. Tony Lamair Burks II, chief learning officer of LEADRIGHT; and Tim City, fine arts director of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate School. The event was hosted by FOX 5 News Reporter Marissa Mitchell. The panelists were candid, knowledgeable, and fun while sharing their opinions and knowledge.
“Someone can take a photograph of me tonight with this cosmopolitan cocktail. It is the first cosmopolitan that I’ve had since January. They will circulate it that Dr. Burks is drunk. There’s a tendency of people to put their own narrative to a photograph. Instead of simply saying Dr. Burks is out and having fun, people will probably say he’s wasted because of all these risky behaviors that go along with alcohol. This makes me seem like I’m an alcoholic only because someone sees one photograph with one glass” said Dr. Burks. Everyone can be two things because of social media: 1) They have the ability to be awkward. There are no longer gatekeepers to say“that’s not something you should post.” If you can think it, you can post it. People post pictures left and right. 2) Because you can post things, you can destroy people’s livelihood. It doesn’t speak to who they are as people. The question is “do you see me sloppy drunk in the classroom because you see me in a picture drinking one drink?” continued Dr. Burks.
Can responsible grown people be true adults and not hide their authentic selves without students, parents, or society wondering if they are drunk? “Could the remedy be that we have to provoke conversations about drinking versus hiding it from our children?” Just because an adult drinks, that does not make them an alcoholic. Instead, we shy away from these conversations with our children thus providing them a false sense of who we are.
“I think we need to have unions because we have no support. Administrators, I love you to death. We need some help when that type of stuff occurs,” said one teacher. Unfortunately, we live in a place where people judge you based on what they see on the outside and not valuing what you bring to the table,” said Dr. Burk.