Sunday, February 18, 2007

Please Help If You Can; This Could Happen To Any Of Us, and Has

I get a lot of email from people I don't know. Most of the time, I delete them without so much as a backward glance. If I don't know the source, I figure it's spam.

The email I got a few minutes ago is not spam. It's a horror story that I began following a few weeks ago when I first read about it over at the Education Wonks, and when I call it a horror story, I am not exaggerating.

It is not easy to be a teacher these days. I do not mean the actual 'teaching;' I mean, the ever-increasing list of peripherals that make our job harder and harder to accomplish. Teachers are responsible for everything that happens in the classroom, even when it's not their fault. Even when a little thing such as an administration that knows just a tiny little bit about computers could explain something, teachers are still held responsible. Even when accusations are ridiculous, and so easily explained, and, and, and, when an administrator who had just a LITTLE computer knowledge could understand, laugh, and fix it. But that's too hard, you know. It's so much easier to just blame the teacher and destroy his/her life. I've seen it happen too many times; I've SEEN it happen. I've been there.

This woman's life is being destroyed, and from where I sit, it appears that it's the same old story about an administration that refuses to take responsibility for its own computer-ignorance, inability to understand just what people can do with a computer, and how, when administrative ignorance is compounded with a student's error, a teacher is caught in a drama NOT of her own making. A drama that could have been so easily explained, and IS, in fact, easily explained, but which has now escalated into an attempt, by administration, to blame the teacher for something she did not do.

How shameful. And how frighteningly commonplace it is becoming. Anyone who works with or deals with students in ANY WAY, and especially an administrator, who does not have a pretty damn good working relationship with a computer, is NOT QUALIFIED. An administrator who doesn't understand what can happen, beyond the control of the person at the screen, is NOT QUALIFIED.

When I read this saga, my blood runs cold. Here is the email:


Julie Amero is the substitute teacher in the Norwich, Connecticut
school district who was the victim of a porn popup storm while in the

On October 19, 2004, Amero was substituting a seventh-grade classroom,
which had an internet-connected computer in the classroom. One of the
students visited a site that purported to be "hairstyling site," but
actually was a gateway to porn.

Unbeknowst to Amero, the district had failed to protect classroom
computers from sites unsafe for middle-school students. Also,
district policies reportedly forbid computer users from shutting down
any district-owned computer in the classroom. Subsequently, the
computer began displaying sexually-explicit images.

Amero was railroaded -- found guilty of four counts of risk of injury
to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child. She faces a sentence of
up to 40 years in prison. The case, from beginning to end, was a
travesty of justice.

Ms. Amero was the victim of malware


and the incompetence of the school district's IT department.


My original post, and some interesting comments:


interview with Julie Amero


From Casting Out Nines ,


There's a blog for Julie Amero


and a legal defense fund


The fund has been verified by several sources.

Wes Volle, Julie's husband, writes:


Julie and I can’t afford to fight this battle on our own. Our expenses
have been in excess of $20,000 to date. That may not sound like a lot
to many people, but when you consider it is almost twice what she made
substitute teaching in one year it puts it in
>Please contribute as much as you can.

Teacher Eric Hoefler wrote:


If this trial stands, how can we ever use technology without a
constant fear plaguing us?

Please join me in helping with Ms. Amero's legal defense.

Liz Ditz

blog: http://lizditz.typepad.com


Dear God in Heaven, when will it all end? When a loving and competent teacher, or a sub like Julie, is accused of unspeakable things because other people misused a computer, when administration sees only the result and doesn't really care about the cause, what are we coming to?

I can tell you the answer to that. The end.

We are coming to the end.

I am too upset to write. For now, I'm just going to sit here and pray.

For Julie, and all the other teachers I know who have been persecuted for things that were not their fault, and for the children who suffer in the long run because so many administrators are "too busy" or "too old" or "whatever" to study in-depth what someone can do with a computer, and who would rather just blame the teacher than learn.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:14 PM | |


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