This may rank among the most bizarre and appalling education stories I have ever heard in twenty years as a professional educator. And I have heard quite a bit.
You may have caught a blip about the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights calling in to question practices at some institution in America and read no further. I didn’t. Unfortunately, it turns out, the UN is right. There’s a taxpayer supported independent school in Massachusetts run by a radical B.F. Skinnerian cult called the Judge Rotenberg Center that makes a practice of giving frequent and intense electric shocks to severely autistic children in order to moderate their disruptive or self-isolating behaviors.
To be clear even under “enhanced interrogation” methods approved by the Bush administration, this could not be done to al Qaida captives. We would never do it to the most hardened convicts in the Federal prison system. Yet taxpayers are footing the bill to do it to disabled students. Sometimes for hours on end.
Having worked with such students in my classroom, words fail me.
Steve Hynd, the progressive blogger at The Agonist and Newshoggers.com did some digging and discovered The Judge Rotenberg Center has deep and exclusive financial ties to a powerful coterie of Massachusetts Democrats:
….I noted at the time that there must be some heavy political juice behind the Judge Rotenberg Center, which declared earnings of over $52 million in 2010, 99% of which came from “Fees and contracts from government agencies”. Now, The Agonist has seen information which shows a pattern of donations by directors and officials to Massachusett state Democrats – and exclusively to Democrats.
To date, the Center has spent over $16 million on legal services according to Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-MA), spending which has been very successful in keeping the school open and operating. Earlier this year the man at the head of the Center, psychologist Matthew Israel, “agreed to step down rather than face trial for his alleged role in destroying tapes showing a night in 2007 when two teenagers wrongfully received electrical shocks based on a prank phone call.” Meanwhile, Mass. Governor Deval Patrick’s administration passed new legislation that stopped the Center practising its voodoo psychology on new admissions – but didn’t stop “aversive therapy” treatments for as many as two thirds of the existing students.
The cash-rich Center certainly hires the best when it comes to protecting its ability to torture autistic children. It’s PR firm is Boston heavyweight Regan Communications Group, where it’s file is handled by Crisis Communications head and former spox for the Boston P.D. Mariellen Burns. Regan Communications was started by George K. Regan, former spokesman to Democratic Boston mayor Kevin White. Their legal firm is Bracewell & Giuliani (yes, that Giuliani) of New York. Their lobbyists are the firm of Malkin & Ross, a company headed by Donald K. Ross, the chair of the board of Directors of Greenpeace USA. In 2010, they were Malkin & Ross’ fifth largest client, paying $112,200 to, among other things, lobby the U.S. Congress to stop a bill that would have outlawed their treatment methods.
It also donates to the local Democratic Party. The Agonist has seen an email alleged to be from the Center to it’s legal and lobbyist firms, dumped on pastebin by the Anonymous collective in March of this year. The email seems to comprise information sent to those firms as part of an exercize in damage control. If it’s the real deal, then the Center’s directors have made personal donations totalling $13,305 to Massacusetts Dem heavy-hitters since 2008. The recipient list is a who’s-who of powerful local Democratic players, and there is not a single Republican on the list.
The alleged list of recipients:
Deval Patrick, currentGovernor of Massachusetts, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney General under President Bill Clinton.
Timothy Murray, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.
Salvatore F. “Sal” DiMasi, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives indicted and found guilty 2011 on 7 of 9 Federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud.
Patricia A. Haddad, current Speaker pro Tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
James Vallee, Majority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Harriette L. Chandler, current Majority Whip of the Senate and the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.
Joan M. Menard, Senate Majority Whip 2003-2011, now vice president for work force development, lifelong learning, grant development and external affairs at Bristol Community College.
Steven Tolman, Dem member of Mass. State Senate to 2011, now president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
Michael Morrissey, Dem member of the Massachusetts State Senate until 2011, now Chair of Massachusetts AFL.
Steven Panagiotakos, State Senator 1997 to 2011, was chair of Ways and Means Committee. Now Vice Chair, Massachusetts AFL.
Barry Finegold, Massachusetts Senate.
Garrett Bradley, Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Massachusetts House of Representative
Would this “school” stay open without this kind of impressive political clout behind them? How do these guys sleep at night? What is happening at The Judge Rotenberg Center seeminglyviolates Federal Law and international law. Where is the FBI?
Steve, who has always put his principles above partisanship, has a FOXnews video about the Judge Rotenberg Center’s “aversive therapy” via electro-shock [warning graphic]. The Center attempted to keep this material under seal but failed.
Massachusetts has the reputation of being the most liberal of liberal Democratic states but her pols are protecting a school whose philosophy makes Benito Mussolini look like a libertarian.