The first prudent step you should take is to get rid of all the condiments in the house. You made a vow to your husband that covered such things as fluctuations in each of your monetary and health status, but you surely didn’t make any stipulation about your obligations should you find out you’re married to the fourth stooge. It’s disturbing that after trying to make his co-worker sick, getting punched out, sending that colleague to the ER, and losing his job, your husband isn’t overcome with remorse. You mention nothing about his begging your forgiveness for putting your family’s financial future in jeopardy. Maybe your husband expected you to say, “Oh, you big, crazy galoot—there was no way you could know mustard could kill Frank. I think your toxic brew trick is one of your funniest!” Perhaps you didn’t need to explicitly align yourself with Frank—he did cold cock your husband. But it’s perfectly reasonable for you to say you’re appalled by your husband’s behavior. He should have responded that he’s appalled at himself and is forever done with practical jokes. In the absence of this, I don’t blame you for wondering about the advisability of growing old with a perpetual adolescent.
I am in my late 20s and am finishing up a graduate degree in education. My last step is internships in the classrooms of veteran teachers. The fourth-grade teacher I'm currently working with is terrible. She yells at the students. She calls out students' grades and mocks those who fail. She reads aloud wrong answers that children have given on tests and lets the other students titter. Recently, everyone who failed a quiz had to stand up in front of the class while she lectured about how bad their grades were. My internship finishes shortly, but I'm nervous about reporting her to the principal, because she would know I did it. I need her positive evaluation of me to ensure my license. Is there a good solution?
—Working With a Bad Teacher
Sadly, there’s no easy way to get rid of an appalling teacher. And you are right to be concerned about protecting your career prospects. While the events are still fresh in your mind, write down the incidents and which students were involved. Since you’re in graduate school, you should discuss all this with your advisers. But whatever they suggest, I think you should first finish up your internship, get a good evaluation out of this incompetent brute, and find a job. Then I think you have a moral obligation to report to the principal what is happening in that classroom. This woman is using her power to humiliate the children in her care—we’ve all heard stories about how horrible teachers can have a crushing effect on children that lasts years. It could be that there have been other complaints against this teacher but because they have come from students who are doing poorly—abusers are canny that way—they may have been dismissed. Your testimony (even if you request anonymity) could be just what the principal needs. Let’s hope this isn’t a case where those in power prefer the status quo to the trouble of taking action.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“Un-Bridal Passion: I had sex with a friend who's getting married. Should I bow out of his wedding party?” Posted May 19, 2011.
“Losing My Religion: Prudie advises a formerly devout man wrestling with the revelation that he's no longer a believer.” Posted May 12, 2011.
“The Mother Lode: Dear Prudence offers Mother's Day advice regarding a swearing granny, a distant daughter, and a combative wife.” Posted May 5, 2011.
“I'm Not a Child Bride: People think my husband is a pervert because I look like a kid. How can we explain?” Posted April 28, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Mom Loved Fluffy More Than Me: Dear Prudence advises a reader whose late mother preferred the company of her cat to that of her children—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted May 16, 2011.
“Pregnant Widow: Dear Prudence advises a woman who discovered she's pregnant after the sudden death of her husband—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted May 9, 2011.
“The Bridesmaid Wore White: Dear Prudence advises a bride whose attendant threatens to upstage her—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted May 2, 2011.
“The Redheaded Stepchild: Dear Prudence advises a mom-to-be who doesn't want her husband's older kid underfoot when the baby arrives—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted April 25, 2011.