Do the crime, pay the time...But you can still teach

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If you assume (like we did) that a state would automatically revoke a license for a teacher found guilty of a felony crime, think again.

Two new investigations look into widespread teacher misconduct, raising a more troubling pattern of state negligence. Both the Associated Press and Illinois-based education gumshoe, Scott Reeder, reveal not just alarming rates of criminal misconduct by teachers, but also the utter indifference exhibited by states licensing officials to these crimes.

A few examples:

  • The AP found that in Hawaii, not a single teacher had a license revoked by the state over a five-year period, even though there were teachers serving sentences for various sex crimes during that time.
  • Either some states are somehow more attractive venues for the teacher criminal type or other states just aren't doing their jobs. Reeder found that California, Georgia and Utah are 25 times more likely to revoke a teaching license than his home state of Illinois.
  • In some states, there isn't even anyone on the payroll charged with tracking teachers' criminal records.
  • Other professions seem to have figured out how to catch their bad guys. In Illinois, Reeder found that physicians are 43 times more likely than the state's teachers to have their licenses suspended or revoked and lawyers are 25 times more likely than teachers to have their licenses suspended or revoked.
  • Some states don't require teachers to be fingerprinted if they were hired before a certain date--in Illinois, that date is as recent as 2004, meaning that as long as you raped and pillaged before that year, you're good to go. Just this year, Texas closed a similar loophole.
  • We can only assume that state licensing officials are too busy with more important matters, such as reviewing teachers' college transcripts to make sure that no one sneaks into the state without the requisite coursework.