Students Sell Out Teacher on Facebook For Breastfeeding In Class, And Our Country’s Terrible Childcare Sytem Claims Another Victim
A teacher at a small Arkansas High school is under attack for bringing her newborn baby to school and breastfeeding during class. One of her students took a picture of the woman breastfeeding and posted it to Facebook, which is how we deal with issues in life these days. Now the story has gained national attention and one more working mom just trying to do her best is being shamed by the country. God bless America.
There are few different issues to unpack here. First, there’s the question of whether the issue is about her breastfeeding in class or about her having her baby there in the first place? It seems to me that the initial uproar was about the breastfeeding, and it then morphed into, “Hey wait a second…why was the baby there in the first place?” According to Superintendent Jerry Newton, teachers are allowed to bring their children to class in the case of an emergency. Students report that this teacher (who has not been named) has been bringing her baby to class off and on for the past few weeks since she returned from maternity leave.
Okay. So she hasn’t been bringing it in everyday all day, just from time to time. We can assume that this has been due to childcare issues, but no one knows. Also, this high school has a total of 250 students — you can’t tell me that in a school that small no one on staff noticed that this teacher had been bringing a newborn in with her. And since it had been going on for weeks, it would also seem that no one in charge had a problem with it until the photo came out.
Then, there’s this nugget from a story on Fox 16 News:
We did call a couple of our local school districts, to find out if this is a policy in other classrooms. The PCSSD spokeswoman said they do not allow teachers to bring their babies into classrooms.
The Little Rock School District spokeswoman says they do not have a certain policy in place, but she said it’s expected that teachers would not bring their children to school.
An expectation is different from a written policy, y’all. I understand that there are some things that shouldn’t need to be said, like, “Don’t murder your students.” But in this case, there was no policy and the school did allow parents to bring in their kids in certain circumstances, so you can see where everything gets a little hazy. Should the teacher have known better? For sure. But it’s also possible that she was given permission to do this and now the school has been caught with its pants around its ankles because someone wrote about it on Facebook. Let’s not rule that out. We can’t decide who is ultimately at fault, here, but we can talk about whether or not it’s appropriate for a teacher to bring her baby to school and breastfeed it while teaching.
As far as the childcare issue goes, this is obviously not a long-term solution. This woman can’t expect to continue to teach with her child in the class on a regular basis, but I would think that a newborn is a slightly different situation. It’s a newborn, not a three-year-old who is running around the classroom shredding paper and eating chalk. And given that she just returned from maternity leave, some hiccups in childcare are more understandable. But this woman isn’t self-employed and working by herself — where was the administration?
Someone at the school should have already talked to this teacher about back-up plans and the school’s childcare policies long before now. If they didn’t and she has been stuck without help from time to time, she may very well have considered that an emergency. Being in danger of losing your job is what most people would call an emergency situation. So given the fact that she apparently had no plan in place and no one in charge made sure that she did after the first couple of times she brought in her baby, I find it hard to place all of the blame on her. Clearly, she couldn’t have had a lot of options.
As for how it’s affecting her students and their ability to learn without distractions, some of them put down their smart phones long enough to give the following quotes to Fox 16:
Tyler Rhodes said, “The baby just lays back there and plays with it’s toys, every now and then it may cry, but she goes back there and takes care of it.”
Chase Rhodes added, “I mean it’s a cute baby and I don’t think it’s a distraction at all.”
“Sally” says you can constantly hear the baby crying and it’s disruptive to the class. She also said the teacher feeds the infant in the back of the classroom, with students in the room. “It’s a distraction especially since we have a bunch of teenage boys in there.”
In addition to the Facebook photo, a student made a recording of the baby crying during class. Because, you know, that happened sometimes. But what is also raising a bunch of hell is, of course, that last quote regarding her breastfeeding.
Look at the picture of her breastfeeding. That woman is covered up. It has also been stated in multiple reports that she would breastfeed at the back of the room and while students were doing quiet study work. This woman wasn’t whipping out her boob while standing in front of the class talking about the Civil War. So if any teen boys were getting hard-ons because of her, that is certainly not her fault. Teenage boys are one big erection. You just mention certain body parts to them and they’re ready to go. Maybe if we stop treating breastfeeding like there’s a sexual component to it, this wouldn’t be an issue. (See what I did there?)
Yes, this teacher should have talked to the school about her childcare problems (that’s assuming she didn’t), and yes the school should have been a lot more aware of what was going on with a teacher recently returned from maternity leave (that’s assuming they weren’t). But to lay all of the blame at the feet of this teacher and treat her like she has committed some kind of shocking act in front of her students ignores the very real issues we have in this country with not just the scandalization of breastfeeding but the inadequate maternity leave and childcare system that forces mothers to make choices like this.