When topless photos of art teacher Tamara Hoover first came to light a few months ago I was not interested in the story or seeing naked images of high school teachers. In addition I would also like to mention that I believe Islam is the religion of Peace and that Muslims are undoubtedly the most tolerant of peoples on this planet.
OK, that's a little al-Taqiyya (Muslim lie) on my part.
Here is how the story unfolded last June:
the Austin Chronicle, 23 Jun 2006, Hoover: Caught in the Flash
photographer Celesta Danger, her girlfriend, pulled her out of the bedroom with nothing on but knee-high striped socks, and thrust her into a brightly-lit studio with several partially dressed and nude models. "I like to capture life as its happening," says Danger. "She had just gotten out of the shower, and had put on her socks before the rest of her clothes. It was not premeditated at all."
Click. Hoover and friends are captured dancing chorus line-style. Her striped socks fly high, and a quartet of pink shadows skip across the wall. Click. Hoover laughs and jostles with a nude male model, her butt pressed against him in a flirty jest. Click. Candlelight paints the room red. Danger kisses Hoover as she leans back onto a bed. She's now wearing a spiked dog collar and no socks at all. [See photo below]
Tamara Hoover was then suspended from her position at Austin High School, a part of the Austin Independent School District.
If you sent an email opposing her firing you would have gotten this email response:
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the District provides the following response:
Thank you for your email regarding the proposed termination of a teacher at Austin High School that was very much in the news earlier this week. As you are aware, feelings run high on the issues identified in the media, and no matter what your position, we appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings with us. Please also be advised that what has been reported in the media to date does not appear to encompass all of the evidence which was before the District when it considered this matter.
Regrettably, by law the District is not permitted to discuss active personnel matters with members of the general public. As noted in a recent letter to the media from the District’s General Counsel, District personnel must protect the privacy rights of our employees, even when he or she has been accused of wrongdoing.
Once again, the District asks for your patience and understanding until this pending matter is concluded.
Secretary to the AISD Board of Trustees 512/414-2413
Ms Hoover tried to raise money to fight the suspension on her myspace website, but Wednesday (Aug 16, 2006) came the news that she's giving up the fight.
Interested Participant Blog, Tamara Hoover Resigns
Hoover submitted a resignation letter Wednesday and, pending expected school board approval Monday, will receive a $14,850 settlement from the Austin school district, several months' salary.
"The district believes strongly in an individual's right of free expression, but as we all know, such rights are not absolute," district officials said in a statement Thursday. "The district and Ms. Hoover disagreed as to the propriety of explicit nude photographs of her and others in sexually suggestive poses being placed on the Internet, and its impact on students and families, and thus, on Ms. Hoover's ability to be an appropriate role model and effective classroom teacher in AISD."
Now, Hoover said she plans to pursue a master's degree and teach at the university level. She said she also plans to participate in a traveling art show of her and Danger's work and discuss their experiences. "I feel privileged to have taught the students and (worked with colleagues) at Austin High. It's an amazing place to work and I feel privileged to have been a part of that."
Her attorney, Jay Brim, said, "I think it's always wise to walk away from a fight before it gets to be the lengthy fight this one was clearly going to be. When the district signaled it was willing to pay her some money to walk away, I told Tamara that was the right thing to do. This was a logical place for her to go on with her life."
Frank Dorval, an Austin High parent and Hoover supporter who spoke before school board members Monday, became emotional when describing to trustees the influence Hoover had on his son. Dorval said Thursday that it saddened him to see Hoover "being persecuted."
"My son felt safe enough with her to go and talk to her," Dorval said. "If it had not been for her, I have no idea where my family would be at this point."
A student, Jimmie Jewell, called her "truly an excellent role model."
Indeed on a teacher rating site Ms Hoover got raves. So this matter did not adversely affect her relationship with her students. Some may argue that young men with roiling hormones will not be able to pay correct attention to their classwork because of the photos. Let me disabuse you of that notion. When I was in high school (1960-1965 the best 5 years of my life) we had naughty drawings of the prettier teachers made available for view by skilled teenage artists. There was never anything left to the imagination. Teenage boys will not stop fantasizing about their teachers simply because there are no nude photos of her available.
I know we in public would like to think that we have a right to expect some decorum and proper outside-the-classroom behaviour from our teachers. That somehow a nude photograph compromises a teacher's ability to teach. I hate to say this, but I don't really care what a teacher does in her outside school life as long as she doesn't teach the following:
1) That Creationism is a science and worthy of being taught alongside evolution.
2) That Islam is a real religion worthy of respect and admiration.
3) That Capitalism is bad.
4) That Western Civilization is not the best culture that ever existed.
5) That America is not the greatest nation on this planet.
6) That other languages should be used to teach in American Public Schools.
7) That Palestinians existed before 1967.
I could probably add a few more lines but that about sums it up. Aside from these items which should not be taught, here is a list of what should be taught.
1) How to read
2) How to write
3) How to count
But since very few young people graduating High School today can even name one Supreme Court Justice or the head of Great Britain, please spare me the offended sensibilities and notions of how teachers should conduct themselves outside the classroom. Let's concentrate more on getting teachers who know how to teach properly and less on what they are not wearing. Perhaps that is precisely what we need to get the attention of young minds today, some naked boobies.
If a teacher likes to wear Nazi boots and pray to a wizard while riding donkeys in a Wicca festival, I don't care as long as her students can string more than two words into a coherent sentence and actually know where Afghanistan is on a map and who Charlemagne was. Sadly almost all of our teachers are primly dressed, obey all the social norms regarding proper behaviour, and are decent, law-abiding pillars of their community. At the same time, we have the largest percentage of idiots, morons, and imbeciles graduating high school than ever before.
I don't care if a teacher is an anti-Semite outside of school. As long as in school she teaches that Jews are good and Muslims are bad.
So I say enough! Please, this country cannot take any more teachers with decorum and straight-laced demeanor and proper behaviour. It's not working. Hoover was probably the only decent teacher in Texas and they got rid of her. How stupid is that?
The Fugitive Post - July 8, 2006 - Tamara Hoover's other half speaks out [PDF].
The image above is of Celesta Danger who took the following photos (click on image for larger view (Some NSFW):
Mosaic made with Mosaic Maker
More info on Tamara at Wikipedia.