There was a time when stories like this would probably have been shocking to the nation at large. Sadly, while it is still worth pointing out to keep up the pressure, this is no longer that far off the peak of the bell curve in the worst parts of our educational system. This report comes to us from New Jersey, where a teacher has been suspended – suspended, albeit without pay, but not fired – from his job for his rather unusual method of relating to his female students and fellow teachers. Unfortunately, none of the following will likely surprise you.

Officials suspended James Lang without pay from his tenured job as an English teacher at Fords Middle School in Woodbridge — a short distance from Staten Island — 20 months ago.

The principal testified some students were afraid to go to Lang’s class. The judge found Lang violated all standards of decency with his “grotesque and sexual” behavior.

Among the district’s allegations against Lang were incidents including calling a student a “dirty ho,” telling a student who bent over that he would “tap that” and asking students if they would be afraid if his “snake were in their bed,” according to the Home News Tribune.

While a judge has determined that the teacher should be fired, a couple of other items from the news report stand out. The first was in the initial paragraph of the article linked above… “An administrative law judge has found a New Jersey school district should fire a popular teacher who routinely called female students prostitutes

How does the phrase “popular teacher” work its way into that sentence and make it past any editor’s desk? The second comes at the end of the article.

Lang’s performance evaluations had been consistently satisfactory.

Lang denied the charges.

This is not in any way meant to excuse the teacher, assuming the allegations are all accurate. But if they are, how does this person get consistently satisfactory evaluations? Perhaps the problem here runs a bit deeper than one bad teacher. It seems unlikely that such an individual could not only survive, but thrive, in such a position unless the system was either passively or actively abetting his actions. There’s plenty of talk in Washington about fixing our broken educational system, but none of it seems to focus on things like this. A change is in order, but in some of these schools it probably needs to begin with a purge.