Teacher: Hooker + High School Student = True Love

“Hooker knows his decisions may have cost him his teaching career.”

News update! 41-year-old Modesto, CA high school teacher James Hooker resigns from teaching job and leaves family for 18-year-old student Jordan Powers.This story has completely caught and captivated my attention. I think the reason I am so interested in this story is because: 1) This man’s name is Hooker! For me, the comedy of his name is unfortunate but cannot be discounted or avoided. 2) He left a job that paid over $100,000 to pursue this relationship. 3) He left a wife and kids to move in with Jordan. 4) Who will hire him after resigning from a teaching position for a relationship with a student? There are so many moral and ethical lines in question here. The full story can be read at the Modesto Bee’s site here although most major news outlets also have articles on this story.

The lovers: 18-year-old Jordan Powers pictured here with 41-year-old Hooker

On one side, I’m all for love and I do believe that love can happen between with a significant age gap (my partner is 11 years older than me). At the same time, I think there are certain boundaries that should remain intact: student/teacher for example. For me, I wouldn’t have an issue with this if they waited until she graduated to pursue a relationship/express interest. For me, if your love is that sincere, you should be able to wait an extra year or so to express interest.  I am not one to judge or pass judgement on the fact he was cheating on his wife and left his kids, which according to a report, one of his kids is 17. I feel like parents should be able to send their kids to school and not have to worry about a teacher having an inappropriate relationship with their child. Now I understand that this is not something that happens every day in every town but there have been several example in past years of teachers in relationships with students (Mary Kay Letourneau). Is this something that is becoming more acceptable?

I am also interested in the mentions of Jordan’s mom, Tammie Powers who has been waging war on facebook calling James Hooker “an arrogant pervert,” according to the Modesto Bee article. She states in the article that Jordan was a good kid, always compliant with the household rules – no R movies, no lone trips to the mall or movies. So…when was this relationship taking place? Was Jordan too sheltered and looking to rebel? I understand that Jordan is now 18, and therefore a legal adult, but what role does the family get to play in this situation?

Yes, I am sure that Hooker and Jordan Powers share love, true love.

I have been thinking about how this story is a reflection of our time and cultural norms. Do we value love over age? Is there an appropriate/inappropriate age gap between individuals in love? At what age do we consider an individual old enough to make responsible relationship choices? In what context? With someone their own age or with someone much older or younger. I’m super interested in hearing other folks’ thoughts on this topic and what your reaction is to this situation. This seems like a moral and ethical discussion waiting to happen and I am eager to hear your opinions.

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74 Comments Teacher: Hooker + High School Student = True Love

  1. Avatar of mor paytonmor payton

    I bet they are both happy – for the moment. But the man should have first built a solid relationship with his girlfriend’s mother, if possible. As for money, maybe the guy’s worth half a million already, you never know. As for the young woman’s mind-changing, it’s possible. But as other posters have stated, many an older-married woman experiences a failed marriage, too. If these two don’t intend to marry, then it all looks more sleazy. But what of any relationship, hetero or homo, with similar age gaps and circumstances? If no law was broken, can we point fingers? If we really care, then we need to change the law.

    In a perfect world, there would be no power differences. Guess what, the world isn’t perfect. Who does a billionaire date or marry – another billionaire? Not likely. If a movie star, sports star, or political leader, male or female, dates a “commoner,” who has the power? Power differences are already checked by the law very well in 2012.. So IF this couple marries, and Jordan becomes “only a housewife” she is still well protected by the law.

    Seven years prison did not stop LeTourneau from marrying her rape victim, Fuualauu. Who’s the victim here? Do either care? Their age difference is 22 years. Yet, they seem to be happilly married, and they now have a lot of money. Yes, it is not the ideal relationship. I believe every marriage can be healthy with the same cultural and religious understanding between partners. But moslty, a healthy marriage is known by it’s other name, hard work!

  2. Avatar of mor paytonmor payton

    What’s left out of this story are the things people would have said 50 years ago. “He’s shacking up!” “He’s not said he will marry her.” “What about this young ladie’s future children?” We also do not have all the facts on his prior marriage and the care of his children. Also, how was the young woman’s home life? So until we get a lot more facts, judging motives is very hard. We all know this used to happen often in the past. People batted their eyes back then, too, when a teacher and student dated. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I might remind people that when a 25 year old woman marries her 26 year old boyfriend, it doesn’t always work out either!
    We are making it easy for men to marry men, and women, women. That definitely didn’t happen 50 years ago! If the next similar story is “41 year old male school shop teacher quits job, moves in with 18 year old former male student,” how do we condemn that? Some people would say that would be gay-bashing. Or, “41 year old female high school volleyball coach quits job, moves in with 18 year old former female student.” This could be in NEXT week’s headlines. So before we condemn this couple, who are at least mainstream in sexual attraction, consider what will likely occur in the near future. If we agree that gay dating and marriage is OK, we certainly cannot quibble over a little old-fashioned, heterosexual relationship – can we? We have to know the whole story, which is mostly unknown.

  3. Avatar of MyxomatosisMyxomatosis

    I’m in an age-disparate relationship myself (19 year difference), and am utterly squicked by this story – so is my partner, FTR.

    It’s not that they’re simply different ages that’s the issue It’s that he’s dating a girl who’s the same age as his daughter who he used to have an authoritative relationship over. It’s the contributing factors that takes this from a “hmmm” reaction to a “GROSS” reaction, and the fact that both of them seem to be oblivious to the whole thing, that they just think people “don’t understand their love” or whatever, is just so disingenuous. And also kind of irritating.

    I think a lot of us also remember some of the ah-mazing decisions we made at 18 and understand the likeliness that in a relatively short period of time, this 18 year old is going to go “wtf am I doing with this guy?”. There’s just so much self-delusion going on that it’s laughable. It’s almost sad that this guy thought it’d be a good idea to leave his wife, family and career for this, because it probably isn’t going to last.

    Unless of course, it’s already been going on for a fairly long time, which means they are both liars and he’s a huge fucking pervert.

    Maybe I’m totally wrong and they have fallen madly in love since she turned 18, and this relationship is going to be one that endures the test of time… but, I sincerely doubt it. And there’s no reason they should have anticipated any other kind of response when they decided to go public.

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