I recently came across a George Orwell quote which made me stop and think.
I love quotes. I love those one-or-two lines of brilliance which could only be spoken by someone gifted in both knowledge and lexicon.
Here’s the quote:
“The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”
Of course, anyone could apply this to nearly any situation with the proper context; I, of course, immediately thought of my own area of expertise: Educator Misconduct. After all, not only do I have first-hand experience, but I literally wrote the book on the issue. And, coinciding with this, many people hate me for it.
For many, my book, After 3PM, is a hard pill to swallow. It strays from the common assumption that educator misconduct (specifically, unlawful teacher/student relationships) spawns from some sort of deep-seated mental illness or deviousness by the educator, and instead brings the topic down to earth and explores the realistic (and actual) causes of these behaviors. But here’s the caveat: These causes and behaviors hit pretty close to home with too many people in the educational community.
In a nutshell, the paramount contention of After 3PM is this: Unlawful teacher/student relationships are not the problem — they are merely a symptom of a much larger problem.
From After 3PM:
“Essentially, the problem is not simply that teachers and students are having inappropriate relationships. That is merely the result. The problem is much deeper, much more complex, and much more obvious than anyone wants to admit.”
School culture as-a-whole is what must change, not simply one offending behavior. These relationships (like the one recently in my home state, at Liberal High School) are publicized, analyzed, and criticized — and the teacher is ostracized. But when the dust from each scandal settles, nothing ever changes.
No one wants to explore the true causes of these behaviors because they are deeply entrenched in a corrupt school culture among teachers and administrators. Essentially, there is too much behavior among educators which is being tolerated (or ignored) with a head-in-the-sand mentality. Therefore, when unlawful behavior is tolerated (or ignored) on a small scale (such as teachers drinking and/or getting high at school), why are we suddenly surprised that there are large-scale offenses occurring too? The administrators at my former school knew all about the drugs, the drinking, and the sex teachers were having with each other during the school day — and they even knew about several instances of inappropriate teacher/student interactions, but no discernable (or noticeable) action was taken.
DISCLAIMER: For clarity (as I always state), the choices I made were my choices and I blame no one but me. Even though I was a willing participant in the hush-hush party/drinking/sex/drugs culture of my peers, I always had the option to say No, to walk away, and not do what I did — especially when I made the choice to make-out with that student.
Teachers who have unlawful relationships with students don’t simply say, “I’m gonna hook up with a student.” It simply does not work that way. As much as our paranoia, hate, and disgust would love for that to be the case, it simply is not reality. It is a slow and steady descent into darkness, leading to cognitive distortions, making the unreasonable seem reasonable.
Pointing fingers, assigning blame, and hurling insults do not solve the problem. And yet, that is the only reaction — publically and professionally — which results from the publicity of yet another teacher/student relationship.
Teachers who have relationships with students should be punished and are at fault. However, after that, what’s next? This is literally a problem which no one is trying to solve. It happens at schools where everyone assumes it could never happen, and then when it does, the assumption morphs into thinking it will never happen again. But it will. And it is. Again and again and again.
Obviously, this issue is only getting worse and any half-effort measures to address it are pointless. There needs to be a new mentality and a new strategy — something which will actually work.
But when I say (or write) this, I am ostracised as well. After all, I’m the worst of the worst, right? What could I possibly contribute to the problem I helped create, right? Doesn’t this make me a huge hypocrite now? Why should anyone listen to a horrible person like me, right? Well, that is the mentality which keeps this issue from being addressed. Schools refuse to look deeply into this issue because it requires a deep sense of self-examination and self-reflection — and that is almost always uncomfortable.
Simply put, in order to eliminate damaging behavior, the entire culture must be examined, critiqued, and changed. Until then, we’re just treading water, waiting for the next shark to bite.
I think, for many people, one of the most difficult moments in life is when we realize our dad isn’t invincible.
Yesterday, my dad lost his battle with Renal Cancer; he passed away at home. He was only 65-years-old.
Over the years, I’ve written some tough content about my past, about my poor choices, and about things which happened to me in my youth. However, nothing was as difficult as what I wrote today.
Today, with the permission of my family, I was given the honor and privilege of writing his obituary — and it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written. However, as a professional author, I could think of no better tribute to my beloved father than the written voice of his obituary… Read More
Below is an email I received from a woman who read After 3PM. Her husband is a former high school teacher who had a relationship with one of his students. Her message is an extremely powerful testament to the importance, value, and impact of the message in After 3PM. With her permission, I am sharing this message. Here it is… Read More
On this date, six years ago, I was sent to prison.
Never in my life have I ever had a reason to look forward to November 2nd. In 2012, November 2nd was the date of my sentencing. In 2012, November 2nd was the day I was taken away in handcuffs. In 2012, November 2nd was the day I was escorted away from freedom and into prison. Before 2012, November 2nd was still a sad day — the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. So as far as I have been concerned, November 2nd has been an anniversary I have mourned every year since 1994. Read More
No matter what direction I turn, I find myself standing face-to-face with someone I’ve hurt. Be it some random public interaction with someone from my past or someone within my own family dynamic, I am repeatedly reminded of the lasting pain I’ve caused in the lives of other people as a result of my horrid choices. And recently, it has gotten worse.
Today is the official mainstream release date of my second book, Life Noir. It’s Book #1 in a series of four books about how I hit rock bottom and managed to claw my way back to what resembles a normal life. It is written as a first-person memoir, chronicling my life from my pubescent years in high school in the 90s, all the way up until the moment I walked out of freedom and into prison on November 2, 2012.
I would not breathe free air again for the next 25 months. Read More
I’ve been to prison. I spent 25 months in prison — 25 months away from my wife, my daughter, my parents, my friends, my family — torn from the ones I love due to my own destructive choices. And I am not so narrow-minded to assume I wasn’t the only one “doing time.” My wife, my daughter, and my family had to suffer through those 25 months as well, and it has had numerous lasting negative impacts, especially for my daughter.
But that prison sentence eventually ended; I was eventually allowed to go home. And yet, the 25 months I spent in prison is nothing compared to the life-long prison to which I am confined within my own mind, heart, and soul. Read More
Over the years, my personal relationship with “religion” has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. Before, during, and after prison, I have (on some — and often many — levels) struggled with what I should believe, from a “religious” perspective. My core beliefs have always fallen within the “Judeo-Christian” context, but being a person who often overthinks everything, I’d never been content with a singular truth. Read More
My wife and I just went to see the film, An Interview with God. It was a good movie and I really enjoyed the intellectual banter and discourse between the reporter and the man claiming to be God. The plot of the movie is simple: A journalist conducts three interviews in three days with a man claiming to be God — The God, in the Judeo-Christian sense.
So this reporter spends three days asking God questions about the world, about theology, and about God Himself. But in nearly every conversation, the topic turns to the life of the reporter. Thus, as the interviews progress, the reporter struggles with his on introspective context rather than his objective journalistic context.
This film, of course, is intended to (among other things) prompt the viewer to ask him/herself, “What would I ask God?” Read More
“Please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now!“
Today I was cleaning out our storage room and I came across several spools of old CD-R disks. They were ambiguously marked, which made me curious what was on them. Several said “CPU BACK-UP” but had no date, so I was curious what I could have backed-up from an old computer I had years ago. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found.
Some people are merely petty, childish, bitter, and immature. And I just experienced a profound example of this concept.
My wife and I sat down to dinner with some friends at a local eatery recently. And as we were preparing to leave, a guy walked up to my wife and awkwardly stood there, looking at her without speaking. After a few more awkward moments, he finally extended his hand and spoke to her, slurring a drunken sloppy sentence resembling, “Hi, do you remember me?” The words stumbled out of his clumsy mouth in the same way he would later clumsily stumble out of the restaurant; it was painfully obvious that he was quite inebriated. Read More
It’s late at night.
Or, perhaps, it’s very early in the morning.
It’s dark outside.
It’s dark inside.
I am sitting on my back porch, listening to the raindrops around me. They’re not merely raindrops; they are like the ones which make huge flat orbs on a windshield while driving through a late night storm — the ones that hit with an accentuated “thud.” I hear them hit the porch roof above me. I hear them plop into my backyard pond. I hear them falling.
Falling. Read More