Thursday, February 23, 2006

Even the closest of comrades disagree from time to time

Serge at Imago Dei disagrees with my take (shared by Feminists for Life) on the firing of a Catholic school teacher for having sex outside of marriage. Michelle McCusker, an unmarried pre-kindergarten Catholic school teacher, was fired after she informed her superiors that she was pregnant. From the accounts of this case that I've read, I haven't seen information on whether Ms. McCusker is still involved in a relationship that includes pre-marital sex or if Ms. McCusker regrets having sex before marriage.

Serge notes, "almost all women who become pregnant (regardless of circumstances) should not be fired from their job." For Serge, being a teacher is one of the exceptions because teachers "occupy a special place in the life of a young impressionable child. It is impossible to expect a child to respect the authority of a teacher in instructing them and not have the child look to them as a role model. This is especially the case in a private school setting, in which teachers are free and required to teach children about moral issues as well as classical academic ones."

I certainly agree with the position that teachers hold a special place in the lives of young children especially children who are in pre-kindergarten yet I still don't see firing Ms. McCusker as the best option for the children she taught and seemingly had strong bonds with.

Serge concludes by saying, "(e)nsuring that our children have the best opportunity to avoid the pitfalls that his teacher has to deal with needs to be our primary objective. Insisting that those charged with teaching and influencing our children live their life in a way consistent with the ideals they will teach our kids is not encouraging abortion. It is encouraging responsibility and accountability."

But does give Ms. McCusker the boot ensure her pre-kindergartens will have the best opportunity to avoid having pre-marital sex later in life? I don't see how it does. I doubt Ms. McCusker's firing and reasons behind it will sway a single one of her students regarding their decision to engage in pre-marital sex or not if we fast forwarded 15 years. The more likely result is young students wondering why their beloved teacher is no longer around. Either way it seems that the parents of Ms. McCusker's pre-kindergarten class would have been left in the unenviable position of trying to explain the situation.

I don't think the firing of McCusker was an action that encouraged abortion. I think it was an action whose justifiable and well-meaning intent could send the wrong message to other school teachers who might become pregnant outside of marriage.

When I first discussed the issue back in November I noted that I could "see how the school would want to uphold the principles of the school regarding pre-marital sex but I don't think firing Ms. McCusker is the best way of going about it." I think the school could have used this situation to teach a valuable lesson to its other faculty and students. I would hope as Naaman did that "the Church (w)ould have looked for an opportunity to temper justice with mercy and righteousness with compassion."

Would there have been a way for the school/church to hold Ms. McCusker accountable to the school's moral standards yet allow her to keep her job? Would there have been a way for them to discourage pre-marital sex but at the same time support and embrace Ms. McCusker for choosing life for her unborn child?

In future years, when I have children and they're going to school and having strong ties with a teacher my feelings could certainly shift but at this point I don't think firing Ms. McCusker was only means of teaching responsibility and accountability.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely disagree with her firing. I can understand how the school would want to protect the children, but I'm sure that they could have found another position within the school so that she could still keep her job.

    Christians do a lot of things that we shouldn't do. I think the best way to treat those that sin (everyone) is with the love of Christ. I just can't see Jesus turning her away coldly. I think if they were to move her into another position during her pregnancy, it would've sent a powerful message that while we do thing premarital sex is wrong, we aren't going to be casting stones for doing it. At the same time, the kids in older grades who no doubt had more serious questions could've had a better explanation given to them other than how it appears currently. The small children probably wouldn't even need to know that she had premarital sex. They could be told that she had to do some work in another department for awhile.

    I think that would've made everyone happy and would've been in line with God's compassion and mercy. Just my $0.02.