Friday, September 7, 2012

A Switch Hitter (and that would be me)

Most of my friends know that I have been a Democrat since I was able to vote.  To me, the Democratic Party stands for so many of the things I believe in, like helping others who are less fortunate, and racial and gender equality.  However, y'all won't believe this, but I am ready to switch my political status to Independent.

Why? you may wonder (or maybe you don't care but you are reading this anyway).  Well, I have realized that both major parties suck.  Both parties are supported by Super PACs and are going to endorse anything that these Super PACs want.  The average middle class American does not matter to politicians anymore.  It's all about money and greed.  Corporate America rules; working class citizens--not so much.

If we all take a look at things with an open mind, things sucked when George W. Bush was President, and things pretty much suck now and Obama has had four years to turn things around. 

When are people going to wake up and realize that the two party system has turned into a sham?  Those guys (and unfortunately most of them are guys) up on Capitol Hill do not care about us.  They have their cushy salaries and their cushy retirement funds to look forward to.  They could care less about the people who struggle to get by day after day.

I am so sick of the bashing and the undying party allegiance and the hate.  Remember September 11 when all we cared about was that America would survive, rebound, and heal?  What happened to that spirit?  It seems that now people don't care if America returns to the vital, strong, and healthy country that it once was.  All people care about is that they were right that Obama failed, or that they were right that he would only be a one-term president, or that Mitt Romney is the guy that will change things.  Do you know what I want to say to those people?  Wake the fuck up.  There's no use waiting for superman, because he isn't going to show up.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bad Teacher (No Contract for You!)

Everywhere I look recently I see an article or hear a news story about a bad teacher.  The media is digging out bad teacher stories like squirrels looking for a nut.  Don't get me wrong--most of the bad teacher stories I read are appalling.  But it made me wonder why bad teachers are getting so much attention.  Why not bad doctors?  Or bad waitresses?   Or bad mail carriers? 

All of this public attention to bad teachers seems to have created the perception that bad teachers are everywhere.  I have to disagree with that.  I would say that 95 percent of the teachers I have worked with are good teachers.  I have taught in 2 different states and 5 different schools for a total of 21 years.  The good teachers I know far outweigh the bad teachers.  So why aren't the good teachers getting attention?  I'll tell you why--because good teachers do what they do day in and day out without flashiness.  Their students come to school, work hard, and learn what they are supposed to learn.  Good teachers do their job.  There is nothing dramatic about it, so the news doesn't want to report on it.  Have you noticed how the news is all doom and gloom?  Everything is overly dramatized.  Which headline would you read:  "Teacher refuses to let student eat lunch" or "5 students finally learn their multiplication facts"?  

Don't get me wrong--bad teachers do not belong in the classroom.  But here is the problem with the media pointing them out like they are as common as leaves on a tree--good teachers have to deal with the consequences and with a negative public perception.

Take what is happening right now in my state (North Carolina).  After several years of successful teaching, teachers are awarded something called "career status."  This is NOT tenure.  We do not have tenure.  All career status means is that you are an established teacher and you have formal observations between 1 - 3 times a year.  You can still be fired, or you can be encouraged to resign, or you can be treated so terribly by your administrator that you quit voluntarily.  Career status is not a sure thing.  Well, a  certain politician in our state (his name might be Phil Berger but I'm not really sure about that--wink wink) has decided that TENURE for public education employees must end.  Again, I must repeat that WE DO NOT HAVE TENURE, so you know this clueless dude has not even done his homework.  He has decided that bad teachers are so prevalent and cannot be easily gotten rid of so all teachers must go on a year to year contract.  In theory, that sounds okay.  But think about it . . . in this bill it states that teachers may not have their contract renewed for any reason, and this reason does not even need to be revealed to the teacher.  Think about these scenarios:

Scenario A--Your principal decides she doesn't like you for some reason.  It has nothing to do with your teaching ability.  She just doesn't like your personality.  Maybe you don't kiss ass enough.  Maybe you don't joke around with her enough.  Maybe you forget to give her a gift for Bosses Day.  End of the year rolls around--guess what?  No contract for you!

Scenario B--Your principal asks you to do something that is unethical or illegal.  You know it is wrong.  If you do what he asks, your conscience suffers because you know it is wrong.  If you don't do what he asks, guess what?  No contract for you!

Scenario C--You have a class that is loaded with behavior problems, non-English speaking students, special education kids, and children living in poverty.  That particular year your test scores aren't as good as normal.  The principal decides you have lost your touch.  No contract for you!

I think you get my point.  Teaching is part art and part science.  It is part instinct and part knowledge.  It changes from year to year.  Teachers do not produce a product.  We enable children to gain knowledge.  Children are complex.  They might not want to learn.  They might not be able to learn.  They might have more pressing issues in their lives than learning how to divide.  A child's medical, social, emotional, and socio-economic background all play a part in how a child learns.  Teachers are only one part of the puzzle that determines how much a child learns.

So what is the solution then?  We cannot have bad teachers in the classroom, that much I agree with.  Here is what needs to happen:  Administrators need to step up to the plate.  They need to do classroom walk-throughs (unannounced) on a regular basis.  They need to see what the climate of the classroom is at various times.  Administrators can't be afraid to have a conversation with someone that sounds something like "I think teaching might not be your calling."  Also, the media needs to stop presenting stories about bad teachers like they are a dime a dozen.  Finally, politicians need to stay out of it.  Let the system work.  Don't punish good teachers by a knee-jerk reaction to bad teacher stories.

If Phil Berger gets his way, it will be a scary time to be a teacher in North Carolina.  I think many good teachers will decide to leave the profession.  I think many good teachers will be forced to leave the profession.  I think that college students will decide not to go into the field of education.  And guess who will suffer?  The children.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What did you learn this year?

The last day of school for my students is tomorrow.  This school year ends my 21st year of teaching.  Argh!  I just can't believe it!  Where did all the time go?  And most importantly, how did I get so old?  But even as I obsess about my age, I wonder the same thing I wonder every year:  what exactly did my students learn from me that they will carry with them?  I mean, I know they learned reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, but did they learn the REALLY important lessons that I hoped to teach them.  So here are the important life lessons that I hope my students learned from me . . . in no particular order:

*Treat others the way you want to be treated.
*Try, try, and try again . . . and then if you don't get it, ask for help.
*Be a positive and productive member of your community.
*People make mistakes--the important thing is to learn from them.
*The work products you produce reflect your work ethic.
*Work out problems with people by talking to them instead of about them.
*Look at someone's inside instead of their outside.
*Special needs people deserve more compassion, patience, and love because they cannot help the circumstances they were born with.
*Actions have consequences.
*Own up to your behavior.
*Honesty will get you farther in than lies.
*Use your time wisely.
*Don't waste materials--appreciate what you have.
*People will give you more respect if you use polite words like Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, and I'm Sorry.
*You will not like everyone, but you have to be able to work with them.
*We are all different, and that's okay.

Finally, I wonder about how my students will remember me.  Will they say, "Ms. Parker was the best teacher I ever had!" or will they say "Ms. Parker was my favorite teacher of all time!" or will they say "Ms. Parker was a tough teacher but I learned the most from her".  And you know what?  Any one of those statements would be okay with me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Things I Wish I Had Learned as a Student Teacher

I had a student teacher this year.  She was actually a year-long intern, but she graduated from college this past Saturday so her time in my classroom is over.  I've been thinking a lot about the things I should have told her.  Here are some of the things I wish I had learned when I was a student teacher (so very long ago) . . .
  • That seventh planet from the sun?  You know, that one?  DO NOT, under any circumstances, pronounce it as Ur-Anus (with a long a sound).  It is Ur-uh-nus (short a sound).  If you forget and pronounce it with a long a, don't worry--you will not make that mistake again because you do not ever want hilarity to ensue all day long while you are stuck indoors on a rainy day with a bunch of 3rd graders.
  • Not everyone will like you.  Get over it.  There is bound to be a parent, an administrator, or a co-worker that you will clash with. 
  • When you read "The Tenth Good Thing about Barney," get the tissues ready--someone may cry and it just could be you.  By the way, when they decide to collect some PUSSY willows to put on Barney's grave, just call them "willows."  Trust me--it's just better that way.
  • Learn to smile and nod, even if you don't agree, because sometimes its just easier.
  • "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" is a great book and has a wonderful lesson and an engaging story.  However, I don't get why William Steig decided to describe Sylvester as an ass instead of a donkey.  Did he secretly want novice teachers to read straight from the text and not change that word?  Do yourself a favor and just change "ass" to "donkey."  You don't want to have to explain to third graders that an ass is NOT a stupid person but is a donkey, because then you will have multiple issues of "Joey called me an ASS" and then Joey saying "But it's just a DONKEY!"
  • You run your classroom.  You are the CEO.  The 10 months of the school year can be great or miserable, depending on how you set the tone on the first day.
  • Another word to avoid is "gay."  No matter how many times you tell the kids that "gay" means merry and lively and that they can look it up in the dictionary to see for themselves, they will still giggle incessantly every time.
  • You will have to learn to stifle your laughter when one of the kids does something inappropriate but still funny--like Michael shaking his bottom singing "I'm sexy and I know it."
  • Keep all the funny and sweet notes you get from kids and parents in a large envelope in your classroom.  You will need those to read at the end of a crappy day.
  • If a kid comes to you and says "Mary said the S word!", don't have a heart attack.  She probably said Shut Up.  The same thing will happen with the B word (butt, not bitch) and the F word (fart, not f---).
  • Learn to laugh at yourself.  You will make mistakes, and plenty of them.  You want the kids to learn that its okay to make mistakes.
  • Some days you will feel like a terrible teacher.  It's okay.  Every teacher has those days.
  • Believe you can reach every child, but do not beat yourself up when you realize that you can't.
  • Understand that "dam" (as in They built a dam to create a reservoir of water) is a funny word for children and be prepared to keep teaching right on through the smirks and snorts.
  • And finally, realize that you won't become rich with money, but you will become rich in the ways that count the most.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who Wants to be a Teaching Assistant?

Yesterday every teacher assistant in my county got a pink slip.  They are all being fired as of June 30.

We knew our school district's budget for 2012-2013 wasn't looking good.  We knew there would be cuts.  What we did not know (until a couple of weeks ago) was that EVERY teacher assistant would be cut.  I'm not sure of the exact number, but I'm guessing around 350.

Everyone wants to say public education is failing.  But let's be realistic.  Who is failing?  I blame society.  No one wants THEIR taxes raised, even for public schools.  Parents don't hold their children accountable.  Stay at home moms don't come to the school to volunteer.  Teachers are not paid as much as other professionals with equivalent degrees.  Many of the best and brightest teachers burn out quickly because of the workload, demands, public criticism, and low pay.  And now, one of the most important positions in the school system is being eliminated.  Conspiracy theorists could say that maybe some people WANT the public schools to fail . . .

Anyhow, I could get on my soapbox about all of that, but the point of this entry is to list everything I can think of that a teacher assistant does.  I don't think people realize the important role they have in a school.  Believe me, I'm sure there is more that I will forget to add to the list, so I apologize in advance for my lax memory.  Readers, if there is something I forget that teacher assistants do, please add it in the comments section. 

  1. One year I had a boy in a wheelchair.  My TA had to take him to the bathroom every day, at least 2 times a day, for 180 days and help him (unzip his pants, hold his urinal, empty his urinal, zip his pants, clean his urinal--you get the idea)
  2. Refurbishing science kits before they are sent to the next school (they have to be rotated because of budgeting issues)
  3. Teaching small groups of readers (because we teach everyone at their own level)
  4. Conferencing with individual students during writing workshop
  5. Having their own spelling groups (yes, we even individualize spelling now)
  6. Lunchroom duty so teachers can have duty-free lunch (Did I mention that this is state law?  Teachers are supposed to be provided with duty free lunch, but the state does not provide the personnel/money to do that.  So guess what?  It falls on the teacher assistant.)
  7. Working with struggling students during independent work time in math
  8. Bus duty
  9. Car rider line duty
  10. Book room organization
  11. Hall duty
  12. Covering a classroom of children when the regular education classroom teacher has to be in an IEP meeting (this is required by federal law)
  13. Substituting in emergency situations (a teacher's child becomes ill and she has to leave, a teacher finds out a family member has died, a teacher becomes sick at school, etc.)
  14. Receipting money for field trips so that the teacher can teach and not have to disrupt sacred instructional time for this
  15. Making copies
  16. Helping children who are sick
  17. Assisting children who have bathroom accidents in their pants
  18. Being an adult who cares (when many children have no one else who does)
  19. Proctoring for state mandated tests (required by the state and federal government)
  20. Grading papers
  21. Sorting all student work and putting it in that child's folder to be sent home once weekly along with other school information
  22. Keeping the word study cabinet supplied with word lists for all spelling levels (because remember we now individualize instruction even in spelling)
  23. Keeping the reading assessment cabinet supplied with forms for all of the different developmental reading levels
  24. Checking the teacher's mailbox during the day
  25. Watching the class while the teacher goes to the bathroom (Yes, we are human too)
  26. Pulling individual students for one-on-one tutoring
  27. Checking for head lice (yes, this is for real--our Board of Education requires us to check all children for head lice when returing from school after a 3-day or longer break)
  28. One year I had a boy with autism in my regular ed classroom.  The assistant sat with him during subject area instruction so that he would stay on task and not be disruptive to the other students.
  29. Taking emotionally fragile/troubled children out of the room for a walk so they can have a "decompression" time
  30. Hanging up student work so that students can learn in a cheerful, child-centered environment
  31. Binding children's writing into individual books so that we can celebrate having published authors in the classroom
  32. Attending PTA meetings
  33. Attending weekly staff meetings
  34. Going on field trips
  35. Helping set up the classroom at the beginning of the year
  36. Helping to put everything away at the end of the year
  37. Being an extra set of eyes to keep all students safe
  38. Attending open house, back to school night, curriculum night, reading night, math night, grade level musical performances, spring festival, bingo night, . . .
  39. Teaching new teachers "the ropes"
  40. Calling a parent because Johnny forgot his lunch money (or a multitude of other reasons) and the teacher is teaching
  41. Taking the children to the library once a week so the teacher can have a 20 minute break from the children
  42. Walking around and monitoring student work during independent work time
  43. Giving encouragement
  44. Listening
  45. Being a nurse, mom, disciplinarian, educator, and psychologist all in one day
  46. Jump rope swinger
  47. Kickball pitcher
  48. Playground referee
  49. Serving on school committees
  50. Running the laminating machine
Good grief, I'm exhausted just by listing all of that!  I hope you readers get my point.  Teacher assistants are not only necessary but they are invaluable.  It takes a special person to be a TA, and it's time that people in a position of power appreciate that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

America the Beautiful?

Something stinks in this country, and it is our politicians and the games they play.

I grew up in a medium-sized, blue collar city in the Midwest.  My family was middle-class, with my dad working two jobs and my mom staying at home with us kids (3 of us) until we were older.  Then she too got a job.  I grew up with a strong work ethic, and as I got older I began to believe in equal opportunities for all and in helping out those less fortunate.  I also believed in the power of one person to make a difference.  All of those are reasons I became a teacher.

Unfortunately, I think I've become jaded.  You see, I've always believed that politicians ran for office to represent their constituents.  But more and more often, I see that they are only out for themselves and their own personal glory.  Money and party ties have become more meaningful to our representatives than the wishes of the citizens.  When did this happen?

It happens at all levels--federal, state, and local.  Most recently in my own life I have become involved in a fight to fully fund my county's school district.  At first, I took the fight to the state level.  My state representatives kept telling me and others that the state is broke.  So, I took the fight to the county level.  I found out that my county made $54 million in a lump sum for the lease of some land to Carolina Healthcare System.  In addition to that one time lump payment, the county will also receive money (I think it is 6 million dollars but I cannot be certain) from CHS every year for the next 50 years.  (How in the world a healthcare system has 54 million dollars to spend at one time for one small piece of land is a mystery to me?  But that is a topic someone else is going to have to investigate because I just don't have the energy.)  Okay, I thought.  The county has the money to fully fund the school system's budget.  They only need about 10 million more dollars to balance it.  Silly me!  Of COURSE it is more complicated than that, well at least according to the county commissioners.  I found out that the Board of Education needs to request that money from the county first.

Well, I'll start pressuring the BOE members to ask the county for the money.  Maybe they think county citizens won't support them if they ask for that much, or maybe they are unaware of all that money that is just sitting in the bank.  Interestingly enough, I soon found out that some Board of Education members aren't willing to ask for that much money from the county.  I ask you--WHY THE HELL NOT?  Something just isn't adding up . . .

I just don't know what to do anymore.  The politicians at all levels are pointing fingers at each other.  In the meantime, our school system still has a 9.6 million dollar shortfall for the next school year.  At the time of this writing, ALL teacher assistants have been told they will not have jobs next year, as well as 50 interim teaching positions.  (An interesting side note here is that one of those interim positions is held by the Teacher of the Year at one of our elementary schools.  Seriously--the county is willing to dump a TEACHER OF THE YEAR?)  What do all of these politicians think is going to happen to the economy with all of these newly unemployed people?  Not to mention, the children and their education will suffer without proper staffing at schools.

I guess the people in charge just don't care about the average citizen anymore.  But rest assured-I (and many other people I know) will continue to fight for what we know is right until our throats are raw and our voices are hoarse and our hands are tired from writing letters.  We will not give up.  This is our country, and the children are the future.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Day In the Life

written:  March 2011

7:00 Arrive at School.  Run to the conference room to check out the testing books.  Feel like I have to sign my life away to get the testing materials.  Run back to my classroom where my students are hapazardly arranging their desks into "rows".  Scream at them to sit down and shut up (not really, but it's a good fantasy).
8:00  Testing begins.  Walk around the room peering at student's answer sheets for 2 1/2 hours to make sure they are bubbling correctly.  Blood pressure rises steadily as I notice students are not using the strategies I have taught all year.  Argh!!  But I can't say anything, not yet anyway.  E gets done in 1 hour.  HELLO???  There are 8 LONG reading passages on the test with 58 questions.
9:00  Still testing.
10:00 Still testing.
10:30  Done at last!  Count every single test booklet, answer sheet, scrap piece of paper, and pencil.  Collect all and take back to the conference room.  What do you mean the students were supposed to bubble their names in?  No one told us that.  So I have to do them all?  F@#*!
11:00  Trying to hold the fort down.  No one allowed to leave the room until the "all clear - testing is completed" call is made.  Poor kids are trying so hard to be patient.  I know their behinds are tired from sitting in those awful plastic chairs, and they are dying to talk.
11:20  Lunch!  We tiptoe to the cafeteria.  I monitor the lunch line to make sure no one decides to act like an animal and that everyone makes healthy food choices (because now that is the school's responsibility too).  Finally, I get to sit down to eat my lunch.  20 minutes . . . okay, I think I can manage to finish my salad if I don't talk to anyone at all.  "Ms. Parker, can I go to the bathroom?" "Ms. Parker. there is nowhere to sit at our table."  "Ms. Parker, may I use the restroom?" "I need to go to the bathroom."  5 minutes left.  Principal sits down next to me cheerfully.  Uh-oh, this can't be good.  "I want to talk to you about a situation . . ." Lunch time is over.
11:45  On the way back to classroom, tutor informs me that the kids I picked for tutoring are different from the ones the principal picked for tutoring, and she is supposed to tutor the principal picked kids.  "Um, who do you think knows these children better?  Who teaches them day in and day out?  Who grades their papers and sees what they understand and don't understand?"  I want to say all this, but I don't.  I just smile and nod, because sometimes it is easier that way.
12:00  Kids are all sprawled around me listening to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" as I read it aloud.  I love this part of the day.  I love re-reading my favorite children's books to new kids every year.  I love listening to the children laugh when I read the funny parts--they cackle especially heartily at the part "Mrs. Salt's enormous behind was sticking in the air like a giant mushroom."  Hee hee.  I giggle too.
12:45  Conferencing with J and D and one of them lets an SBD.  "Boys, what I have I told you about passing gas around me?"  "It wasn't me!" D. exclaims, opening his eyes widely.  I give the other boy my mean teacher look, but he just laughs.
1:15  Recess!  Oh crap, we can't play on the blacktop because of the sighting of the "dog that looks like it might be a pit bull" (WTH??), so we have to go to the mud pit we call the playground.  Two injuries and several muddy kids later, I decide it's time to go in.
1:45  "No homework tonight.  You guys worked really hard on the reading test and you need to rest your brains to be ready for the math test tomorrow."  Smiles all around.
2:00  Dismissal.  Walk 3 kids to after school tutoring.  No adult present to be in charge.  Wait--does that mean I have to be in charge?  Upon investigation, it appears that the kids were supposed to go home and then come back from 3 - 5 for tutoring.  Miscommunication again.  Will it ever get better?
2:30  Principal pulls me aside for another talk.  I'm getting a student who is being pulled out of a different classroom.  I now have 27 kids.  But I can't say no.  With budget deficits and talk of less teachers next year, I can't afford to be the non-compliant one.
3:15  Leave school to go to get treats for tomorrow's staff meeting.  It is fourth grade team's turn to provide snacks for our monthly celebration.  I'm in no mood for a celebration, and I don't think anyone else on staff is either.  But this is a required staff meeting and a required celebration, so we will all  be there.  Because that's what teachers do.  They show up when they supposed to, even when they are dead dog tired, they give even when it feels like there is nothing left to give, and they smile until it feels like their cheeks might crack.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Black Thursday, March 1

So a few months ago I decided to start a Facebook group called "North Carolina Teachers for Change."  I had this idea that maybe some teachers could band together, share information, and keep on top of the changes happening in the North Carolina legislature that affects public schools.  I added about 50 of my teacher friends, started adding links to information worth noting, and went about my daily life.

Here we are about 3 months later, and my little group now has about 730 members.  Word is spreading, and my group is growing.  People are adding friends from around the state.  Everyone seems eager to participate and to band together as a united front.  It seems people are starting to notice us, everyone from legislators to school board members to the media.  All of this is pretty intimidating to a fairly shy woman from Indiana who does not like the spotlight and hates to speak in front of a group and would rather stay home and read than go to a party.

Nevertheless, I will continue to lead my group and I have declared March 1 "A Time for Mourning."  What am I mourning, you may wonder.  Well, to start with, I am mourning the fact that so many teachers cannot afford to stay in education anymore.  Due to a pay freeze plus no more bonus money, having to pay for health insurance that used to be free, and less supplement money for advanced certifications, many of us are making less money this year than we were 5 years ago.  Add that on top of the price increases everywhere from the grocery store to the gas pumps, and many people are having a problem making ends meet.  I personally know teachers who are quitting because they cannot afford to teach any longer.  It is very sad.

I am mourning the lack of respect that the powers that be in North Carolina show educators.  Decisions are made without apparent thought as to what the effects will be on those that elected them.  This is not about politics--I am just as disappointed in the people I voted for as I am in the people who I did not vote for.  Decisions are made that are about money.  Where is the consideration for the humans that are involved? 

I am mourning the transition our country is making towards making test scores the end all and be all.  North Carolina is soon going to include our students' test scores as part of our evaluations.  You may wonder why that is wrong.  If I am doing my job, shouldn't my students be successful?  For the most part, yes, but there are always extenuating circumstances.  What about the boy whose dog died the day before testing?  Do you think he will do very well on the test?  What about the Hispanic girl who just came to America but still has to take a test that is in a language she just started speaking?  What about the kids who live with a mom and dad who fight all the time, so the child is always a nervous wreck and can't get adequate rest?  What about poverty and the effect that has on children?  Although I will try to the end of my teaching career, I cannot save the world.  My evaluations should not be based on test scores because I cannot control all the circumstances that go into a child's test performance.  Just as lawyers can't win all their cases, doctors can recommend a healthy diet but can't make their patients actually do it, and firefighters can't save everyone who is in a house fire, teachers cannot make every child pass every year. 

I tell you all this to ask you to do an easy thing.  Wear black to support public education in North Carolina on Thursday, March 1.  That's the idea, pure and simple.  It may not make an impact on anything, but at least we tried.  It's a way to attempt to get our voices heard.  This is the United States, and I still believe that average citizens can make a difference.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Death of a Legend

This morning a true American legend died--Joe Paterno.  I know many people have bad feelings about JoePa because of the whole sex abuse scandal, and I can understand those feelings.  I worked for three years with children who had suffered all kinds of abuse, including sexual, so I know all too well the damage that kind of trauma inflicts.  Still, the abuse was not Joe Paterno's fault.  It was the actions of a sick, evil man.  I have heard people say, "Paterno should have stopped it."  Maybe, but here is how I see it:

Joe knew this man for many, many years.  He was a trusted friend and colleague.  Then suddenly, someone came to him out of the blue and told him something he had witnessed.  Now, put yourself in that situation.  What would you do?  You hadn't witnessed anything yourself.  You trusted the person who was the accused.  You have all kinds of questions running through your head:  Did the witness actually see what he thought he saw?  Could he have misinterpreted something?  Was this just pure gossip or motivated by something such as revenge?  How could someone you trusted do such a thing?  Then JoePa did do something--he told his boss.  He didn't go to the police, but he did follow the chain of command and tell his supervisor about the alleged incident.  This is exactly what I would have done in his situation.  If someone came to me and told me the same type of thing about one of my friends, a fellow teacher, and I had internal conflict and doubts about it, I would do the same thing.  I would tell my principal and let her handle it.  I didn't see it for myself, so if I reported it to police, wouldn't it just be hearsay?

The responsible parties in this situation for reporting it to police were the initial witness, if he was sure of what he had seen, or the athletic director or president of Penn State University, wherever the chain of command stopped at the university.  This is my opinion.

JoePa was a legend.  He was head coach at PSU for 46 years.  He won two national championships.  The graduation rate of his football players was great.  He cared more about the student than about the game.  He was beloved by most who knew him.  All of these are reasons why I think that he should be remembered as an icon.  Like I said, just imagine yourself in his situation . . . what would YOU have done?