Ohio School Teacher Faces Stiff Punishment for Writing an Erotic Novel

Schooled by Deena Bright

Carol Ann Eastman, a teacher at Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio, has raised the ire and confusion of parents, students, and the Education Association for her pseudonymously penned debut novel Schooled, described by the author as "Chelsea Handler meets 50 Shades of Grey." For a quick summary of the plot, let's go straight to the description from Amazon:

The horrifying shock of witnessing her husband banging his skank-whore secretary spurred this ever-wholesome and rule-following teacher to seek some new lessons of her own. A young teacher learns about sexuality, pleasure, and satisfaction from rather unlikely and forbidden teachers, her former students, now recent college graduates.

Enough said. It's easy to understand why certain groups might raise an eyebrow at the content of the book, given Eastman's position. Fortunately, she had the foresight to self-publish the eBook as Deena Bright. Unfortunately, everyone found out anyway. No word on how exactly, though as The Huffington Post notes, searching whois reveals Eastman as the registrant for DeenaBright.com.

Eastman was already reprimanded for a separate incident-- using school computers for "social" purposes-- which garnered her three weeks administrative leave and a loss of five days pay. Now she's apparently hired an attorney to battle the complaints and avoid any further action. North Canton Education Association President George "Skip" Baran has publicly disapproved of Schooled, though he does acknowledge that technically Eastman hasn't broken the law. 

I honestly don't see much of a problem here. Schooled details affairs between a teacher and her former students, i.e. grown, consenting adults. Eastman wrote, published, and promoted the book under a different name, her only real offense being that she may have done some of this work on a school computer. The tone seems to lean more toward humor, rather than straight erotica. At the very least, she's acting out latent fantasies through fiction, but isn't that what every author does? I mean, let's face it, there's a good chance Charles Bukowski did not sleep with as many women as he claimed in his work.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Schooled is in poor taste, and Eastman should be further punished for writing it. Thoughts?

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Comments

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 13, 2012 - 10:18am

Certainly a bad idea. She was smart to take steps to distance herself from it, but it remains a very bad idea. Teachers are highly scrutinized, held to sometimes unfair standards, and can easily become targets of public outrage due to parents in our era being what they are. Anybody with half a brain in education could have told you what a horrible idea that was, so whether you think the backlash is justified or not, she really should have thought that one through.

I do think it's questionable. Sexual fantasies and students should never mix, and clearly her mind has gone down that road or she'd never have written the book. I'm not saying it makes her a lesser person for it, or that I would condemn her without knowing her personally, but that's shit you keep on the inside. I suspect almost every human being has a wealth of inappropriate thoughts and fantasies at some point in their lives about nearly everything, but one hopefully uses their better judgment to figure out what stuff other people just won't, or in some cases legitimately can't, tolerate.

Bree Ogden's picture
Bree Ogden from Seattle is reading The Bunker Diary December 13, 2012 - 10:22am

Eh. Whatever. She's just like every other hot and bothered mom out there. She's just smart enough to get some Benjamins from it. 

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life December 13, 2012 - 10:31am

Sexual fantasies and students should never mix.

I guarantee you 90% of teachers have these.

Tom1960's picture
Tom1960 from Athens, Georgia is reading Blindness by Jose Saramago December 13, 2012 - 11:12am

What a school teacher does in her spare time is her business.  At least this one wrote a book.  Maybe the people that are upset are jealous; writing a book, even one of questionable literary merit, ain't easy.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer December 13, 2012 - 11:54am

I don't see how it has any bearing on her ability as a teacher. But given some of the other ridiculous, knee-jerk reactions school tend to have these days, I'm not surprised. There are a lot of us on this site that write things, not necessarily erotica, that some people might find offensive. If our jobs came and told us it wasn't acceptable for us to write those  things, would we just lie down and take it? Probably not. I wouldn't. Why should I expect a teacher to govern her spare time based on my moral expectations? She isn't screwing students, or dealing drugs, or embezzling money. She is writing books. They have no more business telling her she can't write erotica than my employer has telling me to stop writing horror.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like December 13, 2012 - 12:22pm

Do we know anything about the actual standards of behavior as outlined in her school district's code of conduct, or is this just a "given no details, how does this strike you" kind of thing?

People can whine abobut prudes or puritanism, but if she broke her contract with the locality, then she might get punished for it. Then again, the language might be something like "conduct not befitting a school-teacher" in which case people could argue forever.

Would anybody want Bukowski to teach high school?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 13, 2012 - 1:10pm

heh, heh...you said STIFF PUNISHMENT...heh, heh

David Saltzman's picture
David Saltzman from Madison, WI is reading The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M. Banks December 13, 2012 - 1:11pm

She was fired for writing the novel on school computers, during school time, after being previously placed on administrative leave for inappropriate use of school resources.  The fact her novel was about having sex with ex-students was, at most, a factor in the decision; she was NOT fired "for writing an erotic novel," though.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks December 13, 2012 - 1:45pm

I'm sure all teachers have those fantasies, but there are some fantasies best left unsaid. What if a day-care provider wrote a book about fucking someone she cared for as a child?

Sorry, but it's just plain gross.

(And this is from someone whose favorite high school teacher married a woman he taught. He was a great man, but that was just fucking weird.)

FupDuck's picture
FupDuck from Beavercreek, OH is reading American on Purpose December 13, 2012 - 2:29pm

Freedom of speech is protected here in America.  Many forget that freedom of speech does not equal protection from consequences.  People and employers are free to react as they see fit.  Our constitution does not include the "right to a job" even if your words and actions don't align with the image your employer wants to present.  Perhaps she should have considered more traditional publishing avenues instead of self publishing.  Publishers are more likely to respect and protect the pseudonym.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books December 13, 2012 - 3:08pm

It's not about a teacher and underage students so I fail to see the issue here. I would be curious as to what, if anything, her union/school district/etc had established as expectations for their teacher's public image away from school. If they didn't have anything that would cover this, I think they are in the wrong--if they did, then as Fupduck said, the First Amendment doesn't protect you from the consequences of what you say/write/etc. 

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Soul Consortium by Simon West-Bulford December 13, 2012 - 4:06pm

How are we so sure that she's had fantasies about a sexual encounter with a student or former student, simply because she's a teacher and writes about a character who engages in that kind of activity? Did she come out and say that?

I write a lot about killing people, and don't fantasize about killing anyone at all. A character's a character and fiction is fiction. Maybe it's the opposite where because she hasn't had fantasies about that, it intrigues her to write about someone different from her. That's a lot of author/character relationships too, no?

Even if she has, she's done nothing wrong in writing the book based on this article and the one at the Huffington Post. However, a great point was already made. If she used work time at the school to write the book, then yeah, she should face the consequences.

But just to terminate her for writing the book? Not sure I agree with that unless it's stated in her contract that such activity violates whatever standard the school contracted her to uphold. And if she didn't, then the school's overreacting, but that's what schools do.

Here's an interesting quote from a junior at the school in the HP article: "I don't know, I could never picture a teacher writing that."

That's why they're Teachers. 'Cause they have far more experience than you and have seen and thought things you can't even picture.

cshultz81's picture
cshultz81 from Oklahoma is reading Best Horror of the Year Volume 8 December 13, 2012 - 7:39pm

Some great debate here. Quick point of clarification: Eastman wasn't fired, just put on probation for a time. She's still employed by the school, but some parties seem to want her fired. And while it looks like the initial offense was using school computers for non-work related matters, the issue has been magnified with the content of her novel in mind.

Good eye, Richard.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list December 14, 2012 - 12:10am

I'm a high school English teacher. We have a code of conduct in my district that basically says we have to be as close to perfect as possible. This means we can get in trouble if a parent sees us having a beer at a bar or a glass of wine at dinner and complains to the admin. There have been complaints about the way we dress outside of school as well. One of my former co-workers was hanging out at a night club on a Saturday and a parent of one of her students saw her there. She was reported by this parent and repremanded for it. Teachers are often forced to walk on egg shells all the time.

This was a poor choice on her part. Using a school computer that tracks everything you do? Even worse. Doing it during school time? Dumb as hell. I couldn't care less about the content, though it is something that is not at all appealing to me. Former student or not, yuck! But I agree with Nathan. Just because she wrote it, doesn't mean it was based on anything in reality. She may have just had an idea that was sparked by something she heard in the teacher's lounge.

One of my co-workers writes Erotica under a different name and has been successful in keeping it all a secret. Not sure how our district would feel if they found out. She has never written about anything school related though. It's all about supernatural stuff. As far as I know, she's never had sex with a vampire in real life ;-)

Gerd Duerner's picture
Gerd Duerner from Germany is reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm December 17, 2012 - 11:53am

I'm a high school English teacher. We have a code of conduct in my district that basically says we have to be as close to perfect as possible. This means we can get in trouble if a parent sees us having a beer at a bar or a glass of wine at dinner and complains to the admin. There have been complaints about the way we dress outside of school as well. One of my former co-workers was hanging out at a night club on a Saturday and a parent of one of her students saw her there. She was reported by this parent and repremanded for it. Teachers are often forced to walk on egg shells all the time.

What the heck?

I can understand that teachers have to behave in an orderly manner around their students - but what business is it to a _Parent_ what the teacher of their kids is doing in his or her free time? (Well, long as they ain't breaking the law or secretly join the local Hell's Angels, that is)

 

As for the book - it is certainly questionable conduct should she have used School equiment to write it, but otherwise? Puh-lease, if we followed the train of thought that she must have had improper thoughts about her students in order to come up with this novel, wouldn't that mean then that every crime/thriller author ever must have considered to break the law at some point or worse to torture or kill somebody in cold blood?

Get real people.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like December 17, 2012 - 11:57am

As for the book - it is certainly questionable conduct should she have used School equiment to write it, but otherwise? Puh-lease, if we followed the train of thought that she must have had improper thoughts about her students in order to come up with this novel, wouldn't that mean then that every crime/thriller author ever must have considered to break the law at some point or worse to torture or kill somebody in cold blood?

Reductive argument. People have sex way more than they commit murder. Sex is an ordinary function, murder is not. The same logic does not apply. The "train of thought" runs on a completely different track in a different part of the country using different engine technology.

Gerd Duerner's picture
Gerd Duerner from Germany is reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm December 27, 2012 - 10:34am

So, then what is your argument there?

If sex is a perfectly ordinary function, which seems to imply that it is also a perfectly normal function for a teacher to fantasise about having sex with a student, then we have again nothing to hold against her... apart from being honest about it then, but honesty can hardly be a crime, can it? *shrug*

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like December 27, 2012 - 11:25am

It shouldn't "seem to imply" anything. You're ignoring the fact that people can create social standards and expect others to conform to them (as people do when they hire someone, with an expectation of their hire's adherence to behavioral standards). If I say "sex isn't the same as murder," that doesn't logically lead to anything about every conceivable form of sex being equally acceptable or suitable for all members of society in all situations.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like December 27, 2012 - 11:26am

In other words, I can hire someone to teach my kids and require they not have sex with my kids as a condition of their employment. This has nothing to do with the dissimilarity of sex and violence.