Is database a deterrent?
We're talking, of course, about the on-line database and Web site that was the main source of information for Sunday's story about teacher misconduct in the St. Petersburg Times. Pinellas union chief Jade Moore (left), who was quoted in the story, told The Gradebook that he initially did not like the Department of Education site, but has since to come to think it might have some positives:
"The more I think about it, if people realized how a minor behavior can wind up becoming a very public thing, it could help control the desire to do it," he said. "This stuff was all secret until about a year ago. You could find out, but it wasn't in-your-face available." Now that it is, "it will have a very chilling effect."
But Moore also offered a cautionary note about some of the listed cases. The state database offers short summaries of allegations and sanctions but not records such as police reports and court files. "Oftentimes what appears on the surface in a snippet isn't all that was there," he said.
In a related development, the Houston Chronicle picked up Sunday's story and readers there have offered a smattering of comments, including this one: "We could sure use this in Texas! Most parents have little or no idea why their children's teachers disappear. I know of several crazy stories that never made the news."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter