Have Y'all Seen This?

Texas Teacher Fighting for Job Over Topless Photos
Friday, June 16, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas — Until they found the topless photos, Austin High School officials considered Tamara Hoover an excellent art teacher with a knack for helping students find their creativity.

Now, she's fighting for her job.

The photos, which were posted on Flickr.com by her partner, depict Hoover in the shower, lifting weights, getting dressed, in bed and doing other routine activities.

Hoover said Friday the photos are art and makes no apologies.

"I'm an artist and I'm going to participate in the arts," Hoover said. "If that's not something they want me to do then I want to be told that. I don't feel as if I was doing anything that was beyond expectations."

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The school district said the photos were inappropriate and violate the "higher moral standard" expected of public school teachers. As she was escorted out of class last month she was told she's become an ineffective teacher.

The district wants to revoke her teaching certification, which would keep her out of Texas classrooms permanently. Hoover will appeal the ruling and is prepared to take the case to court, she said.

Hoover's abrupt dismissal highlights a new concern for employees: Your boss has Internet access, too.

"People don't realize when they put their entire diary out there, they're giving very private information to the public," said Kate Brooks, director of career services for liberal arts students at the University of Texas at Austin.

The photos came to light last month as a result of a feud over ceramics equipment with another art teacher, according to sworn affidavits. Students who had seen the pictures showed the teacher, who then notified school officials.

Austen Clements, one of Hoover's students, noted that many artists have nude pictures, including Georgia O'Keeffe.

"If Georgia O'Keeffe wanted to teach at Austin High, I don't think they'd say, 'No, you have nude pictures online,"' Clements said.

The school was attended by President Bush's daughters, Barbara and Jenna.

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We were flipping channels the other evening and MSNBC had this woman on. The prosecuting attorney was TEARING into her, I mean, really vitriolic, saying that Hoover was the one who showed the kids the pictures, even though Hoover hadn't done - some other teacher found out about it, pulled them up, then reported her.

I get the higher moral standard bit, but where does the line get drawn? Are my romance novels going to get me fired because there are love scenes in them? I mean, heck, Delilah Devlin is a teacher, and her books are erotic. Kendra Clark is a teacher and her books are erotic. Where is the line?

They want to pull this woman's teaching certificate! Her means of living.

What do you think?

I watched 8 Below last night - nice movie, SMART dogs, but if you know an iota about Antarctica, you'll be ripping the movie apart. Like how they FLEW to the continent in AUGUST in BROAD DAYLIGHT. Sheesh.

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Still working on Hot Shot....

18 comments:

Kelly said...

Argh! Argh! Now I'm all riled up. That just reeks of censorship. The whole point of artistic expression is that it should be free, it shouldn't be put in a safe little box and told what it is allowed to be and what it isn't. Who better to teach children about art than someone who understands that and is willing to stand up for her right to do so! Ohhhh that just burns my butt thinking about it. Grrrr.....

Lovely pix of George by the way. I think I'll go stare at it and try to calm down.

Paula said...

I suspect this situation is kin to the "zero tolerance" policies schools have regarding things as innocuous as kids taking Midol or a six year old boy kissing a little girl against her will. Eeek, they migth be drug dealers or rapists! Please.

You've had the stories of the two or three female teachers involved in sexual relations with their students, and now schools are so freaked by those handful of stories that they've instituted a kneejerk "zero tolerance" policy about anything that might even hint at sexual libertinism in teachers.

The whole zero tolerance thing is nuts across the board, if you ask me. Since when did school administrators lose the ability to make a judgment call? Oh, yeah--when rapacious litigation lawyers got involved.

(And no, I'm not anti-lawyers, but I do think moderation is key in more than just drinking and eating)

mary beth said...

I saw the story and it scares me. Like you, I understand the moral standard. But she wasn't having sex with a student or a married teacher or any of the things I've seen this standard applied to. Talk about big brother.
I can't believe her school or the district supporting the administrative decision. This is absolutely wrong and I hope she wins.

Sarah Catherine said...

Good point about the comparison to writing steamy romance, Mary...

I could see the school's position to keep their teachers "above reproach" in their conduct/reputations. But it sounds like it wasn't just a nude photo site...she was obviously posting pictures of her daily life as art.

It's not like some kids saw her on the cover of Playboy and were traumatized. She was obviously a competent teacher before this...

Interesting to see how it goes.

MaryF said...

Frankly, I could tell you stories about elementary teachers that could curl your hair. Some of the things they talk about are awful, and they don't care if the kids are in the room while they're talking in the hall. And affairs - oh, yeah.

Paula, I'm sure you're right about zero tolerance. It's really gotten out of hand. Like you said, hello, judgment call!

One woman who was defending this teacher said, "What would be the difference if a student saw her on a nude beach?" There isn't one. My dh asked, "What if she'd posed nude for a painting?"

I'm interested to see how this plays out. I wish Kendra would come comment - I know her administrators know she writes romance.

Anonymous said...

I teach in a private high school. I told my boss from the outset that I write paranormal romantic mystery, and that the love scenes in my book are consummated. If that's going to be a violation of my morals clause, tell me now, I said. He said he didn't think that sounded like a violation to him! Being arrested for prostitution...well, yeah. That would do it. LOL But all jokes aside, this DID worry me, as you know, Mar. I made sure to tell the admin all about my books from the outset, to make sure nothing happened that would give me future problems. And while my students are all teenagers, I won't even tell them my pen name, and I've told my fellow teachers to not reveal it, either. If the girls want to read my books, they can read them when they graduate. :)

J

MaryF said...

You know, Julie Cohen teaches in England, and she writes under her own name and her students read it. Now, I'm going to use a pen name, and like JoAnn, not going to tell my kids. But hey, all they have to do right now is google my name - real names are easy to find out!

Anonymous said...

HEY! Sorry, I'm late.I'm here! Well, I do write under a pen name for starters. I do think if I were to write under my own name, I'd take slack for it.Mostly, because some of my sex scenes are explicit. The main reason I chose a pen name is because I teach middle schoolers, who are more internet savvy than most of us.

And they would have a field day if they thought their teacher wrote some naughty stories.

I am PROUD to be a Romance Writer and I'll shout it from the roof tops. It's a wonderful thing to write. I can't imagine writing anything more beautiful than a man's love for a woman and vice versa.


I have been the topic of conversation at a few ballgames and parent events, so I hear, however, I could care less. The people that talk usually haven't read the stories. And if anyone asks me I tell them yes and where they can buy them! :) :)

I'm really tired of the double standard that teachers aren't REAL people, too. We have to put up with SO much crap from everyone and it seems we have to live higher morally than everyone else. If I were peddling my erotic romance to my middle schoolers, then that's a PROBLEM! But, I'm not and if they find me on the Internet, their parents should monitor them better.
I'm a moral person. I've been married for 13 years (yesterday) and have 3 kids. I stay at home when I'm not teaching and the worst thing I've done is write a few slang terms for body parts!

Have the parents heard their kids talk lately???? Seems I have to take them to the office a lot for saying WORSE! And don't get me started on the movies I'm told they're allowed to watch! SHHEEEESH!


I'm going to say this and it's going to sound cruel, but it's the truth. Where I live has poverty and some of students come to school hungry, without their teeth brushed and without proper clothing. I have actually had to call parents and tell them their child is crying over cavities (Or whatever becauset this is just one instance, I could go on and on!) please take them to the dentist and then call the Health Dept. because the parents can't seem to find time out of their busy, unemployed, drug infested days to set up an appointment for insurance, etc. And then FREAKING call public transportation to come and get them!(Mary, might can relate?)

Come on! And those are the very parents that would call the news and kick up a fit.

And as far as administration where I work, I walked straight up to my administrator and said "I write books and I signed contracts this summer." He told me great! And I said, "And it's stuff that gets you hot! When it comes out, tell your wife! You'll be glad!" He turned 3 shades of red and I followed it with "And it's under a pen name and the publisher won't release my true identity. I'm choosing to tell you this because if I tell you now, when the gossip mongers find out, it won't be a deal." He smiled, and mostly teases me about it now! He'll say, ,did you write any romance novels last night and laughs!

The thing is, everytime a teacher looks at a student cross-eyed, they're accused of something! I'd like to have the same standard for parents! I've seen more horror stories than anyone could fathom and the news only has time to report on teachers! Where is the news when the parents have been on a METH spree and finally come off of it and the kids come to school and sleep because they watched momma all night to make sure she was still breathing!

Leave the teachers alone! They are HIGHLY underpaid and most of them scape by only because they love children and want to make a difference in their lives.

Okay I went in all kids of directions here, but it's all crazy. I'd like to know who saw her flickr account? Was it a passworded thing that someone happened on?

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Amelia Elias said...

You know, if the state tried to take custody of someone's children because they'd found nude pictures of the parent on the internet, can you imagine the backlash? This is ridiculous, and you know what? I live right outside Austin. I feel a letter to the editor coming on, people. Oh yes, I certainly do.

I'm a nurse, and the pressure to be perfect is much less--but it's there. When someone has to bandage your butt or change your catheter, wouldn't you rather think that person has never had a sexual thought in her life? Well, one thing I've really loved about this area, THE AUSTIN AREA, is how liberal, accepting, and just plain weird it is. My boss knows--hell, my whole office knows. I bring in pictures of my latest covers and show 'em off. And when they ask, I tell them proudly that I write paranormal and erotic romances.

I'm just absolutely shocked that this happened in Austin. I agree with Kendra, and not just because she's my buddy. Teachers shouldn't be held to any higher standard than anyone else. Sounds like that other teacher should get reprimanded for being a vindictive bitch--and would I want a vindictive bitch teaching my children? No! Horrors!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm posting again, but I can't help it. It doesn't appear that this teacher told them HEY BOYS come check out my boobs! Her partner uploaded them. I don't know, but I'm assuming this was with her permission? If not, there's another issue.

This is just silly. Although, I'd rather not see my coworkers boobs, I could care less where she posts them.

There goes my aspirations to be a Playmate! ;)

MaryF said...

GO, KENDRA!!! I want to ask, though, because one of my chaptermates writes her erotica under a pseudonym, but it's really easy to find a connection to her real name. You aren't concerned about that? So the parents know you write erotic romance, but they don't know your pen name?

And YES on the parents who can't be bothered. I have a student who came from New Orleans. She's got cerebral palsy, so our district put her in spec ed under orthopedic impariment. Apparently it was only temporary and they took her out of spec ed right before the TAKS test. You know, the third grade test they HAVE to pass? We told the mother in order to get her spec ed services the child needed glasses and a paper signed by ANY DOCTOR stating the child had cp. Well, it's almost July. The child is in summer school because she failed the TAKS test twice. No glasses, no doctor report, and hell, no parent conference at the end of the year because mama couldn't come. Was she working? NO.

As for teachers geting in trouble - my old school was on the news a few months back. One of the teachers was on administrative leave for grabbing a kid by the arm. Allegedly she yanked him and hurt his neck. Not saying she was smart in doing this, but like you said, those parents are the first to call the media.

Anyway, back on the subject. Kendra knows, I'm sure, that there are teachers who do way worse things than pose topless. And they don't lose their job over it! I knew some teachers who were having an affair - sometimes consummated AT SCHOOL. His wife worked there, she found out, the whole school found out (not the kids), it was a huge scandal, and no one was fired.

And no, Hoover didn't show the pictures. She didn't tell anyone about the pictures. I'm not sure if she knew her partner uploaded them or not, but they were uploaded to the Flickr photo site. I don't know how the other teacher and students accessed it.

AMY!!!! So good to see you - I haven't seen you since you stopped posting on eHQ!! Or Dallas - it may have been then. Is this a big news story in Austin? I like the comparison about parental custody.

Amelia Elias said...

All right, here's my letter to the editor, for anyone interested. They hold you to 150 words or I'd have made a few more arguments.

I’m disappointed in AISD for firing Ms. Hoover and attempting to revoke her license. Yes, I understand that teachers should adhere to a higher moral standard, but Ms. Hoover didn’t violate that. Did she walk into class topless, bring the photographs into class, or tell her students where to access them? No.

I believe this entire controversy springs from an unfortunate modern belief that the body is inherently shocking and bad, not worthy of celebration. What about Michelangelo’s David, the bare breasts of Venus di Milo, or the nude figures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? All these are commonly studied in high school art classes and we trust our children to move beyond the ‘naughty bits’ to appreciate the piece as a whole. I trust they can do so now.

Art has always celebrated the body. Punishing a teacher for living what she teaches is wrong. I hope she’s reinstated soon, and with a full apology.


Amelia Elias said...

waving at Mary

Hey, you! Actually I'm not sure if this is a big story here *blush*--I haven't watched TV in over 2 years and refuse to turn it back on to learn about this current stupidity. Like the bumper sticker says--Stupid People Shouldn't Breathe!

I'd have loved to make the teacher/romance author connection in that letter to the editor. Or that these were high-school students, and I'd bet my bottom dollar those weren't the first boobs they'd seen. Or the parental custody argument. Or any number of other points so eloquently made by other posters here. Damn 150 word limit! I'm a WRITER, don't you know I need more room than that??? Don't you know I measure things in thousands of words??? LOL!

MaryF said...

That is an awesome letter! Says a lot in 150 words! And really, you wouldn't get feedback, so adding the parental custuody and the romance author bit would be cool, but could be left out.

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MaryF said...

And affair with STUDENTS?? HOLY COW!!!! (And, EW!)

I would imagine living in the same community all your life would make it easier to be accepted. LOL on the parents pulling up your website across town!

I worry my district will have a kneejerk reaction. Of course, there's no reason to worry about it till I get published, right?

As for my student, she had a temporary placement in spec ed - I guess six months, since she came in Sept and was booted in Feb. We of course couldn't get paperwork from her old school in New Orleans, so they were going to have to retest her, only when they did, she came out MR. Well, she's NOT, just really really shy. They didn't want to label her that, so they asked the mom for the other paperwork, and she just blew it off.

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