An interesting flip side of the victimology that permeates public schools is that teachers are frequently expected to play the villain. One self-help expert who literally advises educators to turn the other cheek is Dr. Eric P. Hartwig.
“He is experienced and licensed as a Director of Pupil Services, District Administrator and a School Psychologist,” his web site tells us. “Presently, he is the Administrator of Pupil Services for the Marathon County Children with Disabilities Education Board and is the author and principle trainer on the Just-in-Time: Behavioral Initiative Project.”
“Dr. Hartwig has done extensive research on discipline, school violence, psychoeducational assessment and related special education issues.”
At a March 12, 2004 in-service conference with 1,100 teachers in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dr. Hartwig told the crowd, “If a student kicks you, bites you, or spits at you, it is your fault.”
“I was shocked by what he said, but what was even more amazing was that he wasn’t immediately tarred and feathered by the 1,100 teachers,” Jim Blockey writes in his book, Teachers…It Ain’t Your Fault. “Not only did the teachers allow him to continue, but only a few were upset enough to get up and walk out.”
“And even more amazing was the ovation he was given when he finished.” Blockey, who has taught in Las Vegas public schools for 20 years, is the source of the above vignette.
He also shared some choice quotes from Dr. Hartwig’s literature. For example, in a handout titled “Discipline and Behavior Issues,” Dr. Harwig states that teachers must be “well-adjusted, warm, and accepting.”
“In addition, he must be able to take it,” Dr. Hartwig concluded.
“Something else I noticed that may interest you, are the resounding testimonials of all these ‘positive discipline’ theories,” Blockey writes. “Of all the authors whose books were being pushed at this conference (and many of the conferences I attended), I noticed many of those resounding testimonials did not come from actual classroom teachers.”
“There were principals and psychiatrists, but few if any comprehensive classroom teachers. It is amazing how we listen to people who call themselves experts who, in reality, have no idea what is going on.”
John DeFrank, a three-decade veteran of the upper echelon of a Pennsylvania public school district, dramatizes this trend in his compelling mystery novel, Condemned to Freedom.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.