Teacher is a Drug Dealer

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The Omaha World-Herald 1 recently reported on the case of Jolene Cortez, a second-grade teacher at the Conestoga Magnet Center in Omaha. The case highlights just why it is important for parents to know who is teaching their children.

Poor Jolene. Poor, poor Jolene. Unable to scrape by on her $30,841 per year (actually nine month) salary while raising a six-year old son, Ms. Cortez (allegedly) turned to dealing methamphetamine.

According to the article, Cortez' salary is near average for her 30-39 age group and is well above the $12,380 federal poverty level for a family of two. Yet, Cortez lamented that she couldn't afford haircuts for her son, and was apparently too proud to accept food stamps or ask for a handout.

Isn't that rich? She wouldn't ask for charity so she resorted to crime. You might think a person in this position would first turn to something a little less egregious such as shoplifting, but this highbrow, lauded by neighbor Anita Herberlein, as a "hard worker," chose a crime that leads her customers to a life of misery. Of course when one is trying to afford haircuts, it is hard to consider the welfare of anyone else.

Now, I've never met Ms. Cortez, but there can be little doubt that she is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Cortez is apparently saddled with debt, including student loans and back taxes resulting from "incorrect filing" while self-employed in college. She also managed to have a son by someone from whom child support is not forthcoming.

I find it interesting that Cortez managed to post $1000 bail despite not being able to afford haircuts and is now continuing to collect her salary while on suspension from her school.

Herberlein, for her part, apparently doesn't think drug dealing is all that bad, and doesn't blame Cortez for trying to make ends meet. She considers Cortez to be a "good mother."

My take on this case is that Jolene Cortez doesn't know the meaning of being "thrifty" despite her pleadings to the contrary. While $30,000 (plus summer income) isn't enough to buy that second home in the Hamptons, it is hardly an excuse to resort to a life of crime. I would offer that most parents that can't afford expensive haircuts for their children coif little Johnny's tresses in the kitchen.

I don't know anything about the neighborhood in which she lives, but considering its proximity to Creighton University and downtown Omaha, there just might be less expensive places to live. She has a car payment? Maybe it is time to trade down. After-school childcare? Why would a teacher need after-school childcare, unless having her son around interfered with her drug dealing? Well, I guess that problem is now solved.

Despite the bleeding-heart tone to the World-Herald article, I have little sympathy for Cortez. In my opinion, she is undeniably unqualified to teach young children, despite her claims that she "did a good job" as a teacher, for the simple reasons that she has demonstrated (1) an inability to cope with financial problems that millions of people deal with successfully every day, and (2) incredibly poor judgment in turning to drug dealing to solve the problem.

To top it off, Cortez "doesn't know" if she'll look for another job while on suspension. Not that anyone would hire her, but she is once again, demonstrating her extreme lack of judgment.

I don't know how many Jolene Cortezes there are teaching the children of this country, but one thing is certain – we don't need teachers like her. As far as Cortez herself is concerned, I hope she learns a thing or two from this incident, but her track record of poor judgment doesn't suggest that she will.

1 http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=1636&u_sid=1397930

Jan A. Larson publishes a weekly commentary, "What is the Deal?" at the Pie of Knowledge. His work also appears on NewsBull, OpinionEditorials, American Daily, ChronWatch and The Conservative Voice.

Copyright © 2005 Jan A. Larson


I do relilize that this is 5 years after the fact but i was too young to understand back then, I grew up under the influence of Jolene as she was my Nanny I love Jolene and she is a very caring person, she is just the typical women who got mixed in with the wrong people.