Thursday, June 2, 2016

How To Blackmail a Teacher

This is not a post about some reformster program or educational policy. This is about just how low someone can go. This is about one of the worst websites I have ever come across.

TeacherComplaint.com is a site that looks clunky, but makes an offer that seems appealing:

TeacherComplaints.com - A Unique Web Site which allows Students & Parents to take control of what goes on in school!

Do you feel that your child is treated unfairly in class? Do you feel that your child gets to much home work? - Do you feel that your teacher doesn't understand your child / student? Do you feel that the school staff could care less about your problems, feel neglected? - Here, You can give an in depth report of how a school and teacher uses his/ her classroom and how they treat you as a parent and student.. Why Rate A Teacher or school (which can be maniputalted) When you can File A Teacher Complaint!

They claim to have been mentioned on major news networks. Ed Week took a look at it back in 2011; it has been around since 2009 ("This site has officially went online today- March 11, 2009"). It ranks around 368,000 on alexa.

So why am I picking on a site that exists to give students and parents a voice, which provides them with a chance to speak up about injustice they see at school? Isn't that a good thing, even if it is a site that is rife with spelling and usage errors? Certainly lots and lots of folks are using it-- with new complaints posted as recently as yesterday. Why am I calling this the worst thing ever.

The answer can be found in this paragraph on the site, which gives us a better picture of the business model involved:

To bad teachers who have made a big mistake in the teaching profession, we recognize that you may have learned your lesson from a student or parent posting a complaint.  The First Amendment - Free Speech law protects students and teachers rights as long as what was done by the teacher was correct.  To remove a complaint from this web site and the search engine takes time and someone to remove them with sophisticated tools, so for those teachers that want the complaint removed and will abide to improve their teaching and not make the same mistake again, we can remove your complaints within a short period of time with a Remediation Removal Fee of $400 per complaint per person.  Each additional complaint by another student or parent will be an additional fee of $50 payable through PayPal 

It's a blackmail site, pure and simple, a nifty cross between old school blackmail and new school ransomware. There's no reason to believe that the site actually gets relief for its complainers. They suggest that the power of social media will accomplish things, and complainers can certainly "choose to have your complaint submitted to the school." They list one case from in 2010 where someone filed a complaint about (maybe) a teacher later in trouble with the law for sexual harassment.

Should there be an avenue for students and parents to pursue action against teachers who they believe are bad actors? Certainly. Is this site that avenue? Doesn't look like it. This site looks like somebody has found a way to abuse the trust of students with a complaint as a means of running a tidy blackmail business, thereby both abusing teachers, students and parents. After all, what good does it do to place a complaint at a rando website where the object of your complaint can just pay $400 to make your complaint go away?

It's a vile racket, with no indication of who is actually behind it. But somewhere out there is a person with little shame and even less ethical guidance.

5 comments:

  1. Maybe we teachers could start a website.

    Studentcomplaint.com


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  2. So why am I picking on a site that exists to give students and parents a voice, which provides them with a chance to speak up about injustice they see at school?

    It's a blackmail site, pure and simple . . .

    Agreed, however, the "speaking out about injustice" part is also something I think will lead to some rather dubious tales from students. In a world where a proper correction becomes a teacher "yelling at me", this site will overflow with twisted half-truths, slanderous distortions, and outright lies. This mentality is the residue of the scapegoating of our profession, the general distrust fomented by the reform movement, and is emblematic of the entitlement that pervades our culture.

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  3. Looks a lot like a blackmail site to me. It might be interesting if a teacher who is also a lawyer slapped the site owner with a few libel charges.

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  4. Do you think anyone has ever paid a dime to these clowns?

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  5. I am unsure you writing about this was a good idea as any publicity or information is clicks and bait. I have never heard of this site and I have seen Rate my Teacher and frankly these are all silly as today in social media kids do it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are stories of kids setting up blogs accusing Teachers of being witches and that Teacher did sue. So in reality this a dumb version of Yelp and Yelp has been sued. What these sites do is put the 1st Amendment bs they peddle as an excuse or justification for this at risk and in turn are leading to more reasoning for cyber laws to eliminate this cyberbulling, etc. And unless there is some aggressive means to have this site taken down I don't think anyone should give any attention to it at all.

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