I remember the first time I drove into Florida and saw multiple signs reading, “Don’t feed or disturb the alligators.” There must have been more than a few folks turned into alligator food for this scenario to become such a chronic problem needing signs, I thought. 

Feeding or disturbing a prehistoric, carnivorous reptile with nearly 100 teeth known for its unbelievable jaw strength and signature death roll never crossed my mind. I didn’t need a sign to tell me not to do that – I somehow knew instinctively that I might become the food if I tried to feed such a beast or even ventured near one. 

On the flip side, I don’t think those signs will actually stop anyone intent on feeding the alligators. See, the type of person that would pester an alligator is probably not the type of person who is predisposed to reading and obeying park signs. 

At the end of the day, there are people who play with alligators and there are people who don’t. The warning signs and posted advice do little good except to let everyone know that there has apparently been a pretty serious problem with alligators and people interacting in ways that are probably not good for either party. 

Over the weekend I saw a news story on our site that reminded me of this exact scenario. 

Craig Monger reported that Theron Stokes, the associate executive director of the Alabama Education Association (AEA), thought it would be good to put out an alligator sign of his own for the teachers he represents. The holiday advice given in the AEA’s “Alabama School Journal” amounted to: Don’t drink and drive, don’t smoke the reefer, and don’t have sex with the children who are in your care. 

All very sound advice, but something tells me this is a lot like the alligator sign. 

Somehow, I think the teachers who are going to hit the roads drunk, smoke weed and have inappropriate sexual relationships with students are not going to be fazed by this warning. 

However, like the alligator sign, Stokes’ warning tells us that there appears to be a chronic problem among Alabama teachers with these issues. This isn’t conjecture, as Stokes says that “countless [education] employees” have been terminated for drinking and driving and “a large number of educators” have been fired and arrested for the misconduct of inappropriate sexual relationships with students. 

As bad as drinking and drug use is, the fact the AEA felt it necessary to remind teachers not to “slide into your students' DM's” or “hook up” with them is quite possibly the most bizarre and alarming warning I’ve ever seen … even more so than the “don't hold the wrong end of the chainsaw” warning sticker on my trusty Stihl gas-powered tree chopper. 

I don’t know who should be more infuriated and disturbed by this: the parents who trust their children with these educators or the good teachers throughout the state whose occupation has been irreparably tarnished by rampant misconduct – misconduct exhaustively protected by the AEA. 

I can’t imagine being a parent of a child in the public education system and then seeing the holiday reminder go out to those entrusted with that child’s care to not do drugs or have sex with students, of which my child was one! 

I also can’t imagine spending my entire career as an educator, pouring my life into the development of future generations, a once sacred duty, and then seeing it devolve into a group needing reminders not to do drugs or have sex with students. 

This is reminiscent of what COVID revealed about the medical profession. At one time the most respected profession, the medical industry devolved into a group of people more focused on keeping their high-paying jobs and not upsetting the public health apparatus than upholding their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. Pastors locking down their churches, forcing masks, and telling their congregation that taking an experimental shot was loving their neighbor also fall into this category. 

It seems that every sacred profession is in a major state of decay, which is also evidence of massive societal decline. 

Unfortunately, education is at the heart of this societal decline. 

A state that can’t produce children who can read is not likely to produce teachers who will refrain from drug use and inappropriate relationships with students. 

An education system that finds more value in woke diversity than character formation will produce a generation that will tarnish whatever profession they pursue. 

It seems a pattern interruption of some sort is necessary to get out of this educational death spiral. 

As it stands now, the worse the state education system gets, the more money they receive. Anyone versed in basic economics knows that you will get more of what you incentivize and less of what you penalize. We’re literally incentivizing poor performance hoping things improve. This is the definition of insanity. 

We cannot continue to throw money at this issue. Accountability, in whatever form, is the answer.

Bryan Dawson is CEO of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].

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