ACLU's Teacher Abuse History:Karen Horwitz's Journey with the ACLU in her attempt to make teacher abuse known:
3/08/07: Back in 2002, when I could not get the Hearing Officer to render a decision in my teacher termination case, which meant I was not officially terminated, but no longer had a job, I contacted the ACLU in Chicago, asking that they help me put pressure on the State so that I would obtain an answer. I knew that I could bring that answer to a higher court, as did the State, so it was in the State's best interest to keep me from moving forward; there would be no PETITION if there were no decision, and the State preferred that outcome. I also knew that my case was a perfect opportunity to break open a door to what is really going on in our schools, and thus justice for me meant justice for many as well as protection fro our children.
NAPTA had just started. The website had not been launched. I circulated the following message to a small group of teachers also desperate to be heard, hoping they could assist me in getting heard by the ACLU. I knew that teacher abuse in general might fall into gray areas of legality, but my district's acts clearly violated my First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, giving the ACLU an opportunity to force lawful behavior on our EducRAT$. I sent them a detailed outline of what had occurred. My pleas did not work. As you will see, the ACLU rejected supporting me, and thus I got the media to put pressure on the State and finally get my decision. I then learned the law to appeal it in the Illinois Circuit Court, Illinois Appellate Court, Illinois Supreme Court, and now the U.S. Supreme Court, the last hope.
NAPTA URGENT MESSAGE 4/2002
from Karen Horwitz, President National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse
I just received a response from the ACLU regarding my request to represent me in court to force the state to make the tenure hearing procedure Constitutional, which it is not. I detailed:
- how violating teachers' rights allows administrators to force teachers to lie to parents and violate children's rights in order to keep their jobs.
- how administrators target teachers with integrity who compromise their agenda, and have no problem doing so since they operate above the law.
- how they have taxpayers' monies to support any lawsuits, and political connections to prevail over teachers.
- how the state is conspiring to deny due process to me and that I want this case taken into court, to prove teachers are being denied their rights, and make this public so educational reform can finally begin.
- how until teachers feel it is safe to come out of the closet, business as usual will be the agenda in our public schools.
- how the NEA has been working against me to help violate my rights.
- how the Attorney General's Office has just turned down my request to investigate, saying I can hire a private attorney to protect my civil rights.
- the state's position is, a teacher who has already spent $100,000 on the hearing process, whose being told that the ISBE has no confidence they can obtain the original record from the hearing officer who is refusing to obey the state statute saying the decision was due on Dec. 15, 2000, should spend more money to see if she can protect her rights in a system that has violated her rights from the District on up.
- state has no problem with my record being withheld
- state has no problem with my statement to them that the District submitted an altered letter and I believe that is one reason why my record is "vanishing"
- state has no problem with my having had two hearing officers already and thinking choosing another one is fine, and if he decides not to rule, we can keep choosing until someone decides a teacher has rights, and if they don't, oh well
- this means teachers do not have rights, because the costs are prohibitive and the state has tacitly agreed to keep it this way.
I have already spent a total of $300,000. The media takes the position that they have no proof that our whole country is experiencing this, and cannot report one teacher's misfortune as a pattern. Certainly the fact that corporate sponsors might frown on the media exposing this might be handicapping media exposure, when one considers the impact NEA has on business. They obviously need a louder voice to dig into this. Think about the Insider and the 60 Minutes Broadcast that was almost pulled because of the Brown and Williamson connection. Media has its limits also.
My case could compel the media to investigate and expose the sinister agenda in place in education, to maintain power and money for those at the top. But even better, a class action suit incorporating the dozen or more teachers who will speak out will make a bigger impact. That is the reason for this email.
Educational reform will NEVER BEGIN UNTIL TEACHERS HAVE RIGHTS. MOST TEACHERS ENTER THE PROFESSION WANTING TO HELP CHILDREN, AND END UP SUBMITTING TO THE BUSINESS AS USUAL AGENDA IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. IT IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO TRANSFER A TEACHING DEGREE INTO ANYTHING VALUABLE IN THE BUSINESS WORLD. AND TEACHERS THINK THAT STAYING THERE AND COMPROMISING SOME OF THEIR INTEGRITY IS BETTER THAN NOT HELPING CHILDREN AT ALL. BUT WE CAN ALL SEE THE SLIPPERY SLOPE COMPROMISING SOME OF THEIR INTEGRITY BROUGHT THEM TO: COLUMBINE; EPIDEMIC OF DRUGS AND SEX AND CHILDREN SENT TO THERAPEUTIC BOARDING SCHOOLS; 850,000 HOME SCHOOLED CHILDREN; DUMBED DOWN CURRICULUM; MISERABLE PARENTS; GOOD TEACHERS FLEEING; COMPETENT YOUNG PEOPLE NOT CONSIDERING CAREERS IN EDUCATION.
It is a fact that teachers with integrity are targeted by this system because IT CAN ONLY SURVIVE UNDER COVER. THEY ARE OPERATING ABOVE THE LAW, USING PUBLIC RELATIONS TO HIDE THE COVERT AGENDA, AND DEPENDING ON SILENT TEACHERS NOT TO TELL.
The few of us who refused to partake in this duplicity have been slaughtered individually, with no one to support us. Now with NAPTA, things will change, but slowly. The promise of having the ACLU behind is awesome and we need to do whatever we can to keep this possibility alive and make it happen. This is only a start. Together we can make it happen.
I will type the disappointing letter I received from the ACLU below:
Dear Ms. Horwitz:
I have your letter of April 2, 2002, and do thank you for presenting the important details. Your description does indeed allege much improper conduct of the sort of which none of us approve.
As a rule we take cases to trial when there are many plaintiffs with similar difficulties; to do that we keep track of the numbers and kinds of complaints brought to us.
Unfortunately, we do not have the staff to take your case at this time; we will keep your materials to have them at hand in case we do find it possible to deal with your issues
Again, thank you for sending us these data.
Ann M. Rothschild
Here are my thoughts:
- This is a positive rejection
- If we can get more people to write in describing teacher abuse = denial of Constitutional rights = dysfunctional schools, they might do something
- We might need to put all the complaint together and ask them to forward this to the National ACLU, which would be more appropriate for our group across the country
- Having parents write in letters pleading for the ACLU to represent the teachers as the beginning of the food chain, i.e. Self serving administrator devour good administrators devour teachers devour parents and children. (Note I added good administrators since I realize they are victims just as good teachers are victims.) The parents' letters must focus on helping teachers gain Constitutional rights to stay on point. Although we know that federal laws are being violated when children's rights are violated, if we don't focus on the one point we will be too scattered to get their support. It is fine to mention that teachers without Constitutional rights are forced to be disingenuous toward parents and deny children's needs and then explain the violations of federal law. But the emphasis must be on teachers' constitutional rights.
- All communication should take the position that the ACLU is on our side; the fact that they are understaffed is not the usual political obstacle we get from everyone else. The ACLU is not for profit and is limited. It is up to us to make them see that what limited funds they have are best spent in this direction.
- If you know anyone who has any connections to the ACLU, appeal to them to appeal for us.
- If you know anyone who could be a benefactor and donate money to them for our cause appeal to them. Make sure the donation is contingent upon representing us or to help make it happen. (It is fine to just donate money to what is a good cause, but we are hoping to create donations specifically to help make this happen.)
- Keep in mind that more than likely if we get them to take our case, it won't be the Chicago office, but nevertheless we need to start with them. So I am listing the names of all the people listed on the Governing Committee in case you know or know of them. I assume they are Chicago people. I wrote a letter to Rabbi Gary S. Gerson, one of the members, and got a compassionate response; he said he would speak for me as one who knows of my family. Although it may be too late for this first rejection, I assume it will be on file with my case and together we can build this to something that will go forward. Here are the names: Michael C. Cook, President, Ellen J. Benjamin, Fay Clayton, Diane Geraghty, Rabbi Gary S. Gerson, Harriet Hausman, Clifford P. Kelley, Diane F. Klotnia, Jennifer Minor Lansing, Marcia E. Lazar,
- Perhaps one of us could convince a lawyer to work with them offering their services. I don't know how that works, but it is worth exploring. I do know that the NEA is the most powerful lobbyist in Washington and it appears that most lawyers are crushed going up against the educational system. We need either a powerful organization such as the ACLU, or a Dershowitz caliber lawyer to even get past first base. All of us have experienced political courts and for any one person to spend their money fighting this political stronghold is unrealistic. ACLU represents the opportunity to do this together and an institution that is supposedly not part of corporate politics.
- Here is the information concerning the Chicago ACLU:
The Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU, Inc.
180 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 2300
Chicago, IL 60601-1287
Phone 312 201-9740
fax 312 201-9760
- Harvey Grossman, Legal Director
Benjamin S. Wolf, Associate Legal Director
Colleen K. Connell, Executive Director
Willard Dumas, III, Intake Director
Tanya Havell, Director of Foundation Relations
Karen Caseboltg, Major Gifts Officer
Edwin C. Yohnka, Director of Communications
NAPTA's mission is to expose teacher abuse and eradicate it by supporting, educating, informing and helping teachers so they can and will speak out. I began working as an activist seven years ago, with not one other teacher courageous enough to speak. Within three years I found one. Within six years I found three. In the past month we now have about nineteen, in addition to parents and citizens who support our cause, we have teachers who need to remain anonymous until it is save to come out. Those nineteen people are the voice. We need to make it louder. Getting the ACLU to take our case would raise our voice to heights where it will be heard. Please help us in any way you can.
NAPTA UPDATE 3/08/07
Today, I spoke with an intake counselor at the Chicago, ACLU, trying to alert them to my PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI now docketed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Her initial reaction was that they are too understaffed to provide support. I proceeded to explain that I was calling not just to ask for support, but to alert the ACLU to this case having made it to our highest court, believing that they would not want to be caught out of this loop, when they are known to defend many "fringe" issues with which much of our citizenry disagrees. In addition, I had contacted them about five years ago, and they indicated they would keep my issues on file. My thinking is: when cable news networks figure out the truth about our schools via this US Supreme Court decision-even a denial being newsworthy - the ACLU needs to have a position on this. They will be asked: how did Horwitz end up having to do this alone when fighting violations of the First Amendment seem to be fundamental to the ACLU's purpose?
Since we circulated the original message to our fledgling organization, we launched our website on October 2002, and now have nearly 700 members. In addition, we added members' experience with the ACLU to our membership form so we could keep track of their experiences and the data led us to this: members were either told they are understaffed or that this was not a big enough issue on which to focus. Although we keep scratching our heads wondering where they found the staff to help Larry Flynt publish pornography, Anna Nicole secure her inheritance, and terrorists have a voice against abuse, we must take them at their word.
However, our research gleaned from our members suggests this: they do not believe something this horrendous could be happening in a country such as ours and thus it cannot be. Even the person with whom I spoke today pointed out that she knew of the quality of the district that had terminated me and it was hard to believe that board members of that caliber would want to dispose of quality teachers. One has only to recall that priests abused boys for thirty years with no accountability since no one believed this could be happening to know that our authorities do not always outwit those who have found those nooks and crannies where the law fails to go. What's more, special interest money has a way of buying off the law and this is precisely what is happening in our schools today. The unions are quite powerful and have proven to let targeted teachers down almost unanimously. We have data that suggests a few isolated union workers tried to help members, but somewhere and somehow things imploded and the teacher was left with either no help, or union staff helping the employer. It became apparent that the general union policy focuses on saving their bureaucracy even if that means supporting unlawful conduct to dispose of unwanted teachers.
And, one has only to think about the recent conviction of the Vice President of the United States' Aide, Scooter Libby. Who would think such a likable, intelligent man would do what he did?
Until our society gets the following: abuse of power happens; it must be controlled using checks and balances; and is always bad for a democracy, we can expect to have a compromised democracy. Either we have laws and they are followed, or we are no longer a democracy. It is as simple as that.
Therefore, establishing a voice for mistreated teachers who have undergone unlawful treatment requires not only agreement that laws must be followed, but surpassing the belief that the people running our schools would not intentionally violate laws and rights of those they serve. To these ends NAPTA has worked and hopefully now the ACLU will share its power with a cause that so desperately needs it.
About K. Horwitz