Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dear Parents, You Can't Do This. No, Really, You Can't.

My teaching career would not be complete without memories of outrageous parent complaints. 

You didn't let my son get his calculator.  You hate him!  No, I didn't let your son get his calculator because it was in his locker, and my direction was that under no circumstance was a student to leave the classroom once the standardized test had been distributed.

You didn't give my son his pass.  You hate him!  And you ruined his day!  No.  I didn't give him his pass because I did not receive a pass to give him.  Although I enjoy looting them for extra cash, that was not the case in this situation.  It turns out, this pass wasn't that valuable.

You didn't give my child an award.  You don't like my child.  No.  I did not give your child an award because your child missed twelve out of fifteen assignments, does not participate in class, and has a cumulative average of 63%.  It was tough, but I was able to find a student with a higher average and more deserving record.

My daughter failed a test and said it's because you think she's stupid.  Your daughter failed the test because she got more questions wrong than she did correct.  I'm willing to bet she did not study.  I'm also willing to bet the study guide is smashed at the bottom of her bookbag, and that she opted not to attend my after school review session on account of a Starbucks appointment.

But this one, this one right here, sends my blood pressure to a level currently uncategorized by medical professionals.  English teacher Judy Buranich is being harassed by parents and community members for spending her personal time writing erotic novels.  The video below (and by the way, kudos to this former student for putting matters in perspective) pretty much expresses my thoughts on the issue:

Once again, an excellent educator is being raked over the coals because private citizens are interfering in a matter of no concern to them.  I'm thankful my parents had more important things to do (like raise my brother and I) and didn't go looking for ways to destroy one's career. 

The fact that Ms.Buranich publishes her novels under a different name proves she separates her two careers.  As far as I'm concerned, the conversation ends here. 

Why was she discovered?  Because someone went digging.  As teachers, we can't stop others from launching private investigations on our personal lives; we can only make sure we remain law-abiding citizens so nothing incriminating is discovered. 

Judy Buranich did nothing illegal.  She did nothing wrong, either.  She does not deserve negative publicity, nor does she deserve to be treated in this degrading manner.

If Ms. Buranich assigned her racy novels as a classroom reading assignment, I would understand the cause for concern.  If she were fighting to have them added to the curriculum, promoting them on school grounds, or including them in her classroom library, this would be a different case.  She isn't.

In school, Judy Buranich teaches English.  At home, Judy Mays writes erotic novels.  And if anyone thinks other teachers don't have hobbies some would find questionable, they are sadly mistaken.

As an American, Judy Burancih has the right to teach English.  Judy Mays has the right to publish novels that are racy, filthy, and loaded with strong sexual content.  As an American, you don't have to read it.  But, as an American, you should respect someone else may want to.

I'm on Team Judy!  Team Judy all the way!!!


  1. Excellent post, Paul. I couldn't agree more about this mess. This just further proves how ignorant people really are. Instead of worrying about a teacher's hobbies outside of school hours, why not worry about what the teacher is doing during school hours? Get involved in your child's education and ensure that they are getting all they can from their teacher/school/extracurricular activities. Doesn't that make much more sense?

  2. This is so fucked. Sorry, Paul.

    The problem here, as I see it, is the American Epidemic of repression, especially when it comes to sex.

    I have two daughters, one is in HS the other is going into fifth grade. I would much rather have a published author teaching English to my children than anyone else.

    I don't read erotica, personally, but I know that a person who chooses to express themselves, artistically, in such a manner is much more likely to be a well adjusted person with a healthy personality than one who pretends to espouse family values and creationism and strict religious tenets, but really masturbates to bestiality videos in his or her studio apartment at night.

    I'm sorry, but this shit pisses me off. If you're really that worried about the personal hobbies of your child's teacher, get off the couch and do some parenting. Talk to you kids, for Pete's sake.

  3. People are so stupid.

    I'm glad she wasn't fired or else this comment box may have been heavily laden with swearing.

  4. Oh, and a teacher here in the GA public school system told my kid that AIDS came from Africans having sex with monkeys. But that's okay.

  5. Great post (funny and serious... nice). Thanks for sharing.

    And Matthew, everybody knows you have to have sex with donkeys to get AIDs. As Ron White opined, "Can't fix stupid."

  6. You put that so well, Paul! If you don't like what she writes, don't read it. And yes, my parents had better things to do as well. Fortunately!

  7. Excellent post! I commend you for bringing this delicate matter to our attention. This sort of crass, myopic rumination is damning not only to our disjointed educational system, but to our broad constitutional rights. It's a sad day when people foster judgments that severely impugn one's rights, and more importantly, their right to live a life that strays from the "norm." So frustrating.

    Your piece was well-articulated and I'm completely with you. Team Judy all the way!

    And the video was excellent!

  8. Yes I can, because I'm a parent at school district which shall remain unnamed that is run by the entitled parents and an incompetent troll!

    You KNOW I'm kidding and I wholeheartedly agree with both your message to parents AND your thoughts about Judy Buranich! Guess Who!

  9. I had to go to YouTube to get the close captioning to work, but hell yeah! She kept it out of the class room and did everything she could to keep it that way. Sounds like a few parents had too much time on their hands and went looking for a scapegoat. Look close enough you'll find dirt on anyone.

    She doesn't waste her spare time, she uses it to write (no matter what she's writing). Words are this woman's life. Who better to teach English? (Hugs)Indigo

  10. HAHA!


    Ok, those "You hate my child" is so funny. I am sorry for you tho. I am a push my kid into a pool and let htem figure out how to swim parent. If they fail a test its becuase they didnt study,not cuz the teacher hated them.

  11. Team Judy, too! Thanks for stopping by my blog to leave some love. Some parents seem to have this strange idea that teachers are supposed to be pure, high-minded mannequins whose entire lives revolve around the school and the kids in their class.

    This is America, we're about freedom of expression. I love it that people who disparage another country for being undemocratic having no freedoms are the same ones who will condemn a fellow citizen for being one of "those" people.

  12. I'm with you on all these 'complaints'! The problem in Malaysia is a lot of parents just send their children off to school and tuition classes, leaving their children's education solely up to teachers whilst not even educating their own children at all! Can't stand that! They ask me why their child isn't progressing and I ask them if they are also teaching their child at home. Silence.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  13. Great post. Small minded people are everywhere banning books, ruining lives, and spreading fear. Good to know someone somewhere is standing up to them.

  14. Kudos to Judy and to you for backing her up.

    "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds talk about people." Eleanor Rosevelt.

    Those complaining the most about Judy probably wished they could get a book published, too. :-)

  15. Definitely a rough spot. As a parent/teacher/writer, I can understand everyone's side in this.

    Writer: You want to write whatever you like, and no one is obligated to buy it if they don't like it.

    Teacher: You want to inspire your students to love learning, and kudos if you can.

    Parent: You want teachers to be a wholesome influence since your kids spend the many of their waking hours with them.

    This teacher was definitely trying to separate her personal writing life by using a different name. It would have worked, most likely, if someone hadn't found out and exposed her.

    But I think for most parents the concern is that if a teacher enjoys producing erotica, it's possible that her views on it will bleed over into her professional teaching life as well. I write for kids because I'm passionate about the genre. I'd find it very hard to separate that from my teaching, because I love it so much.

    Like it or not, when you are a roll model for kids, even what you do at home behind closed doors does matter. If it turned out that she was a pedophile at home behind closed doors, it would impact her career. If she was into pornography in her time off, it would impact parents' ability to trust her with their kids.

    I'm not passing any judgment on her, but I think it's important for everyone involved to see all sides of the situation. To throw up the flag of "I'm a writer so I can write what I want" only works if you are not also a roll model for children. (This said although it is a sad commentary that parents often expect a higher standard of character in their children's teachers than they do in themselves.)

    It seems at this point there is no longer a win-win answer for this situation. The situation was evidently not handled in a private and careful manner. As far as I can tell, the choices have become that she will have to teach in a school where the parents don't care about her personal writing genre, or she will have to give up writing erotica entirely, or the parents who are concerned will withdraw their kids from her classes or even the school.

  16. Oh, man, as a former teacher this brings back memories. I always loved, when asking a parent to help their child learn something, they said "No, that's your job."


    And I'm glad you're writing to support Judy. I mean, I can only imagine all the private things about themselves these complaining parents might not want publicly aired.

    I'll even make them a deal: they can complain about Judy, but only if I can publicly expose all their own secrets. Let he who has not sinned (or, well, hobbied in this case) cast the first stone...

  17. @ Bryan Russell: It's particularly sad that many parents have abdicated their personal responsibility of making sure their children are well educated. I think society has become a selfish place where some parents want to live their own lives without reference to the kids they brought into the world.

    (Also find it very challenging when parents make lame excuses for their kids behavior rather than holding them accountable. Loved Ron Clark's book 'The Essential 55' which addresses teaching kids to take responsibility for their actions.)

  18. Thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts on this issue. It continues to upset me because, regardless of what happens or how much support Judy receives, her teaching career will never quite be the same. In today's world (with the help of sites like, a teacher's reputation is fragile. Once tainted, not much can be done. It's like waking up one day and, out of the blue, learning you have an illness that will stay with you the rest of your life.

    @Read: Thanks for your sympathy. Thankfully, not all of those scenarios applied to me - but they were all factual. From a teacher's perspective, you sound like a dream parent. The best part is, your children will reap the benefits. The sooner people realize coddling and kids and fighting their battles will NOT make them successful beyond high school, the sooner we can start producing more well-rounded know, people we would actually feel comfortable with performing our brain surgery! I've always said I don't need to see my doctor's medical degree; I want to know how many times his mommy complained to the teacher to get him an extension or a little grade boost!

    @Beth: I like how you summarized the viewpoint from each of the roles involved. You did a great job showing how perspective will vary depending on the character. I do want to mention that Judy has been a teacher for 33 years and a published author for 9. The fact this is just now coming out probably means the two interests have never intersected. I blame technology; had we not made it so easy for people to dig up dirt on just about anyone, the school community most likely would never have learned about Judy's writing career. (And I LOVE the Ron Clark book! And the movie, too!)

    @Bryan: Well said. So very, very well said. It makes you want to keep a laminated copy of the job description to whip out during conferences, doesn't it?

  19. As teachers we really need to keep our nose clean at all times. During college a professor warned us on the last day of class to clean up our facebook. Apparently the phrase "everything goes" doesn't (at least not for educators).

    I have a tatoo on the back of my neck that I try to hide from students. Well with a high ponytail and the wrong cut shirt, the students will always make a comment (which always made me feel uncomfortable).

    If today's fashion or fads are cool for teachers then students will gravitate as well (especially if the teacher is young and cool).

    For example, my daughter's highschool English teacher; young and hip with nose and eye brow piercing and plugged ear gauges. Lo and be hold, no matter what I taught my daughter she was on her way because if it was cool for this intellegent teacher then it was okay for her.

    Bottom line, as educators we need to be careful.

    BTW Paul, great post...

  20. @C: Interesting that you would say that. I asked my teens what they thought about the situation for this teacher, and they actually said the same thing that you did, that kids will do what they see a teacher doing, so teachers have to be careful because they are looked up to by kids.

  21. Aah, the things I miss from my teaching days! ;-)

  22. It really is scary to think people don't have a private life anymore. When I was very young, the word "communist" was said in a way we might say "terrorist" today. The Russian government was feard because they were communists and they intruded into everyone's lives. No one had privacy. People lived an oppressed life. People were afraid to write or speak what was on their minds...even the truth. Hmmm....sound familiar?

  23. Loved the first part of this post. I used to teach 5th grade and it was amazing how the parents thought their child should receive a higher grade from what they really deserved.
    I totally agree with you as well on all things related to this teacher. Well said.


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