An Interview with Karen Horwitz: About Teacher Abuse
By Michael F. Shaughnessy Senior Columnist EdNews.org
Eastern New Mexico University
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Michael F. Shaughnessy Senior Columnist EdNews.org
Dr. Shaughnessy is currently Professor in Educational Studies and is a Consulting Editor for Gifted Education International and Educational Psychology Review. In addition, he writes for www.EdNews.org and the International Journal of Theory and Research in Education. He has taught students with mental retardation, learning disabilities and gifted. He is on the Governor’s Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council and the Gifted Education Advisory Board in New Mexico. He is also a school psychologist and conducts in-services and workshops on various topics.
1) I understand that you are about to finish a book- what’s it all about?
It answers the question that pundits frequently pose: Why are our schools so dysfunctional? Why can’t reform succeed?
2) What led you to write this book?
I returned to teaching in my forties, after earning a Master’s degree in reading, and discovered that the system could not tolerate dedicated, competent, mature teachers, the very teachers children need.
Having raised three children, I was determined to be the teacher I always wanted for my children, only to discover why I rarely found those teachers – they are harassed out of the system by power mongers, which I call EducRAT$.
The more awards these teachers earn, and the more parents love them, the more they threaten those in power who need to keep the schools from the public – in order to keep them as their own treasure chests for power and perks.
EducRAT$ need compliant, robotic types who will not question bad practices or speak about harm to children, some of the negative outcomes that evolve from White Chalk Crime™, the organized scam that is robbing our country of real schools. White Chalk Crime™, which ranges from incompetent management and abusing teachers tokickbacks and embezzling, describes the activity of far too many if not most superintendents and school boards, and I realized someone who could afford not to work had to work to expose this as most teachers could not afford to speak out -it means certain political suicide.
I had wanted to teach since I was a child, but ended up in business because teaching jobs had become scarce in the early seventies. I had wanted to spend my time in a humanistic world rather than a world focused on money, yet I had no choice. Once I remarried and was in a position where I could do work that fulfilled me, I went back to school to earn a Masters degree so I could finally secure the job that was in my heart. After landing that dream teaching job, I slowly discovered that there was a world more focused on money and power than business – education – and that my “great plan” to live a more meaningful existence had backfired big time!
However, I had had great success in marketing in business and believed that I had the insight to market a truth that was going to be extremely difficult to sell – our schools are corrupt! I had left business because it did not fulfill my passion to make a difference despite my success and figured there had to be a reason I had these skills as well having ended up in such a dismal teaching situation!
It became clear to me that someone needed to market this truth and that someone was me. So starting back in 1995, I added the job of investigative reporter and documented what was going on at my district, and tolerated about four years of harassment until they fired me in 1999, so I could expose this at some point.(Most teachers either just quit or take settlements and sign gag orders and thus no one knows what is going on; I turned down a very generous settlement offer so that I could eventually write the book to expose this.)
However, I realized my voice would not be enough. I needed to find others who could vouch for the fact that teacher abuse was a covert practice that kept the truth from the public. So I started an organization, National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse, NAPTA, and a website, EndTeacherAbuse.org, and began “collecting” like minded souls. I also realized I needed to document the legal journey of a teacher, which I did, and then put together a book that would teach the public exactly what is going on behind their backs. I now have eight hundred plus voices supporting what I am saying and a legal journey that went all the way to the US Supreme Court and a book that will prove all of this beyond a doubt.
I wrote the book that needed to be written, which is the culmination of a dozen years of direct experience and research on this topic. There is no other book that has put all of this together, although there are books detailing some of the aspects without helping the public see what is crucial to leveling the playing field – how they intersect.
3) What do you see as the top five issues that are “going on” in education?
I can’t put any other issue on the same level with White Chalk Crime™. Everything bad about our schools evolves from that and until people figure this out there can be no critical analysis of education. However, if I had to choose five issues under that umbrella, I would choose, not necessarily in order of importance: poor quality teachers; incompetent leadership; special education; gifted education and lawlessness, which affects all of the above.
4) The teachers that I talk to seem to feel that the expectations due to NCLB are simply UNREALISTIC. How in your mind does this affect morale and performance?
I definitely agree that these expectations are unrealistic. They would be unrealistic if they were imposed on real schools, but imposed on the schools blanketed with White Chalk Crime™ they lead to more teacher abuse to achieve scores needed without having to improve the schools. This means teaching to the test, teachers ordered to give elevated grades, and practices that turn off most teachers that had a passion to teach. Teacher abuse has created a crew of teachers whose morale is beyond lousy, but who cannot speak about it. Also, anyone with any power to change their career will leave teaching and the remaining are not inclined to perform well despite their passion to teach or are ones who never really had this passion and chose teaching as an “easy job.” (Teaching without concern for children can be an easy job, and that is the direction it is taking since the option to really teach – not an easy job – is quite rare these days.)
5) Further, the teachers who are working with some children with very exceptional needs feel overwhelmed and almost ask to work with students that are inappropriately mainstreamed. How does this fit into the picture?
Much of this feeling of being overwhelmed stems from teachers being forced to go along with unlawful practices as well as to lie to parents about their children’s needs. Furthermore, keeping teachers overwhelmed is a key tactic for EducRAT control. Placements are done to maximize profits rather than meet students’ needs and although all teaching positions feel compromised in a system of organized crime, when dealing with exceptional children, White Chalk Crime™ intensifies all issues, making them even more unbearable for dedicated teachers. In addition, many teachers ask to work with inappropriately placed children since they realize that these children need protection from this ruthless system!
6) You operate a web site- Tell us a bit about it and why you started it and the link.
As mentioned, when I realized that in order to “sell” the truth about our schools I would need other voices – it is so preposterous, unbelievable and frankly such a hard sell – I decided to start a site that would encourage others to speak out or at least share their stories anonymously with hopes that one day someone like Oprah would “save” us. Because our situation parallels that of the boys abused by priests, whose stories, for thirty years, angered those who could not accept that priests could behave in such despicable ways and thus allowed that abuse to continue, I realized we needed a loud enough voice to get beyond the anger that typically accompanies such ugly truths, and that a website was needed to build that voice. It is at EndTeacherAbuse.org.
I recently started a second website to accompany the soon to be published book, which is at WhiteChalkCrime.com. I started this to move to the next level of marketing. Now that I have the voice, my goal is to teach the public about White Chalk Crime™, confident that once they realize the game, their collective anger will end White Chalk Crime™ so reform can begin. This site will include an ongoing blog where readers can comment and dialogue about issues in the book with a goal of building a voice that will be heard.
7) In reviewing teacher’s unions involvement over the past twenty years, I have come to the general conclusion that they haven’t done a heck of a lot for the vast majority of teachers. What is your take on this issue?
Unions are a huge enabler of White Chalk Crime™. I discuss this extensively in my book where I have included indisputable documentation that unions participate in teacher abuse and in helping to harass out the best teachers. This act alone proves that they are hazardous for teachers, something that only those of us who dare buck the system discover. However, unlike those who blame unions as the primary obstacle for reform, I find them to be secondary wrongdoers; the administrators and boards that leave unions with no other option but to be corrupt if they want to survive are the primary offenders. (This same phenomenon applies to teachers forced to go along if they want to survive.) This is not to justify their depraved acts, but to help the public see and act upon the cancer rather than the symptoms.
8) In general, what does the “general public” need to know about the realm of education?
I have answered this question above: White Chalk Crime™ has destroyed our schools. My book is geared toward the general public unlike most books on education. In fact, it is set up to teach them what they don’t know that really hurts them. It goes into great detail on this topic, but one of many points I make is this: do not focus on the issues such as curriculum issues or lousy textbooks since much of this is intentionally in place to keep the public focused on issues other than the crime in our schools. Secondly, until teachers and parents unite against the real problem – corrupt administrations – nothing can or will change. EducRAT$ know this and thus deliberately foment hostility between these groups by implementing ridiculous programs. Most importantly, the public needs to know that this is all about runaway power. Just as we cannot sit down and negotiate with the oil companies and the insurance companies since they are not going to play fair, we must treat those in charge of education the same way. We must take their power from them and only we the people can do this because the courts, the media, and no one else will! I have documented this truth.
9) I often say there is no such thing as education- but rather we have special education, gifted education, vocational education, early childhood education, bilingual education, sex education and so on and so forth. Your thoughts?
To the extent we have education at all – my position is schools are a front for White Chalk Crime™ rather than a bastion for education -I would agree it is splintered since those in charge have worked hard to keep us polarized. With all interest groups focused on their own interests it is less likely they will figure out White Chalk Crime™. In my book I discuss how polarization keeps parents and teachers at each other’s throats as well as point out other divisive arenas. It makes sense that EducRAT$ would want the interests of these various aspects of education to be on different pages, oblivious to the big picture as they struggle to solve their individual issues.
10) What question have I neglected to ask ?
Most of the missing questions evolve from issues existing within this world of White Chalk Crime™ that won’t be asked until its existence is known. One I can think of is: how is it that universities are so clueless about teacher abuse? Teacher training universities promote ideas such as teachers are decision makers, when this is far from the truth and other than Joe and Jo Blase of University of Georgia, who published Breaking the Silence about teacher abuse occurring all over this country, none seem to have any awareness of this problem. This is beyond an ivory tower gap. Although those with vested interest in attracting students may desire to keep these truths hidden, how is it that scholars do not know this? (Perhaps you have ideas on this?) Another is: how has the media not reported this? I discuss both of these and much more in my book.
One other question that comes to mind is how can the public stop White Chalk Crime™? They can begin by joining NAPTA at EndTeacherAbuse.org so that they can become part of the voice that says NO MORE White Chalk Crime™ as well as receive notification when my book is available. Also, they can go to WhiteChalkCrime.com and blog as well as learn about a new organization I am currently putting together to address White Chalk Crime™ that will focus more on the entire scope of issues destroying our schools while NAPTA focuses more on the biggest one – teacher abuse. We need “we the people” to storm the many privileged EducRAT$, adept at propaganda, but miserably failing our children. With the use of our tax funds they have stolen our tickets to freedom and nothing can or will change until we figure this out and demand that White Chalk Crime™ that stop.
Published Febraury 13, 2008