Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Teacher ousted after Stern appearance

Southington, Connecticut second grade teacher Marie Jarry was forced to resign recently from her job after appearing in a bikini as part of her appearance on Howard Stern's Sirius radio program. She and her husband were contestants in the "Ugliest Man Hottest Wife Contest."

This week, Jarry has decided to fight the decision with some monetary aid from the sponsor of the contest, AshleyMadison.com., who has pledged $5,000 in addition to the original $5,000 she originally won. Comedian Artie Lange of the Stern show has also offered to do a benefit show to help raise money for the legal battle.

Hats off to Jarry, who did nothing wrong in her Stern show appearance except show that teachers are human beings who have lives outside of their day jobs just like everyone else. Unfortunately, the media jumped on the story and school officials hastily made a bad decision in pressuring her resignation. In those news stories related to the firing, one parent described Jarry as an "outstanding teacher." So why would her one day stint on Stern's program be cause for ousting?

One reason cited is that she used a sick day to appear on the show. I'm pretty certain she isn't the first person in history to call in sick when she actually wasn't. If that is a firing offense, half of the working population of the United States would be let go tomorrow.

The real reason for this tragedy - and yes, I think it is a tragedy when good people lose their jobs due to ignorance - is the vilification and demonization of Stern in the eyes of conservative uptight individuals, most of whom have never heard or seen Stern's show, and just don't get what he's all about.

I'm reminded of Senator Ernest Hollings, who chastised "Beavis and Butthead" to Janet Reno and couldn't even pronounce their names, instead calling them "Buffcoat and Beaver," while admitting he had never seen the show. How can school adminstrators make sound decisions about our children's teachers when they rely on third-party opinions of media personalities to make their decisions?

Stern's show can only be heard by subscribers to Sirius Satellite radio, which requires special equipment and a monthly fee of approximately $12. How many second graders are listening to his morning show? Certainly parents who listen are fans, so they wouldn't have a problem with Jarry's appearance. School administrators surely couldn't have listened, or they would have heard how innocuous the appearance on the program truly was.

Also cited as examples of "inappropriate behavior" by the school board and media are pictures of the teacher from Stern's website showing Jarry in a bikini. Upon seeing these, there is nothing lewd about the photos and there isn't anything shown that can't be seen as she walks down the beach.

Another admonishment by media is that she talked openly about her sex life with her husband to Howard. Anyone who actually heard the show (as I did) would find her comments to be mild and honest, and reflected her genuine love for her husband. Teachers are allowed to have sex just like everyone else.

If there is justice in the world, Jarry will win her fight against the Southington School officials and regain her job. She's guilty of nothing more than taking a sick day when she wasn't sick and being a mature, honest, down-to-earth human being who has actual emotions and a well-defined sense of humor.

That is exactly the type of person I'd like to have as a teacher to my own children.

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