When does a ‘hobby’ become a ‘real’ issue?

The courts of Canada have ruled that teachers are teachers 24/7 and that we do not take off our teacher hats when we are off-duty and in our private time. Like it or not, teachers are held to a higher standard than other members of the public, because they are role models and deemed to be transmitters of Canadian values. Under la, we are required to be role models for our students and to adhere to the standards of the profession. … a teacher holds a position of trust, confidence and responsibility. If a teacher acts in an improper way on or off the job, there may be a loss of public confidence in the teacher and in the school system.

From: TC: The Official Magazine of The BC College of Teachers. summer/fall 2009 (pages 13-14).

For teachers it is clear: an inappropriate hobby and the public display of behaviour that is contrary to “Canadian values” is a violation of professional standards and, as the published record in the TC shows can result in the loss of a teacher’s certificate and their capacity to teach. But is there the same sanctions for a politician? Long time parent activist and public education advocate, Dawn Steele, has this to say about the hobby versus issue debate:

Sharon has been a great trustee and a great voice for kids, no two ways about it, which leaves those of us who have problems with her position on firearms feeling really conflicted. Bill Tieleman argues that we should be able to separate the two issues, but I find that impossible. I have friends & family in Toronto’s West Indian community, where underprivileged youth & gangs & guns have proved to be such an explosive and tragic mix. While Sharon has never in any way suggested guns belong in the hands of young people, I nevertheless worry about the “guns & glamour” adult role model that she projects and how that plays on insecure &/or impressionable youth.

Canadian society has historically distinguished itself from our cousins to the south by a more restrained approach to gun ownership and control. Sport and aboriginal use use of guns for hunting is a part of our history and, one might suggest, a very real part of our cultural fabric. Many of us who have grown up in the interior and coast of this province understand and accept the use of rifles and other firearms for the hunting of food. But what we don’t understand is the use of concealed handguns. As Dawn comments it contributes to a sense of worry and concern.

In Texas one school district has decided that the safety of their students means arming the teachers. Hard to imagine; at least I find it hard to imagine as a Canadian that arming teachers is the best way to quell fears over school violence.

Bill Tieleman’s advice is that we need to keep the issue of NRA-style gun rights separate from the discussion of who is best suited to be our public school trustees? But is it really possible to separate the issue?

The opening quote from the teachers’ college highlights the fact that teachers must live to a higher set of standards than the rest of us. I think that it is only fair that the politicians who make policy decisions about the education of our children should be held to the same high standards.

One thought on “When does a ‘hobby’ become a ‘real’ issue?

  1. Charles, it is more than just an issue of a “hobby.” It is a policy position that Ms. Sharon used her elected position (on a school board no less) to promote. It is outrageous to have someone with Sarah Palin’s politics on firearms law sitting on a “centre-left” school board.

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