Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Green Grass, Blue Skies and Running Water

Greetings from the reservation or from the plantation steps. Either way it's an invisible existence. Special Ed kids are expendable. Overcrowding problem? Send those Special Ed kids elsewhere. Never mind those promises of the "you can stay here as long as the grass is green and the rivers run" variety. Truth is there is an inherent not in my backyard attitude towards Special Ed kids. Special Ed kids are neither to be seen nor heard. By law the school are supposed to do what is appropriate. That gives schools a lot of wiggle room. Almost as much as defining what "is' is.

The school that Kid O is at now entirely segregates Special Ed population from the rest of the school. They built an addition to the building and the Special Ed kids are all on the main floor in a separate wing from everyone else. Regular ed kids don't have to interact. Neither they nor their parents need to ever encounter Special Ed kids. Except maybe in the lunchroom or school assemblies. Doesn't sound legal, but the law is open to broad interpretation. The teacher is good. She has resources and is willing to consider the big picture, even as she has her doubts. Even so it is problematic how often this kind of segregation occurs. Few people care about these kids. The more severe the mental handicap, the more likely the Special Ed kid is going to be warehoused.
I doubt that parents of these kids are happy about it, but I doubt that they have the resources or the wherewithal to do anything about it. . Even an educated woman like me finds this process intimidating. I looked into a hearing once and quickly dropped it. I likely would have stuck to my guns if we could have afforded an attorney. The Chicago Public Schools attorney was a shark and would have had me for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack.

I have encountered educators who assume that if parents don't step up it's because they are indifferent. Some in fact may be. But I suspect that many more are simply overwhelmed by the barricades that are in place. If a parent doesn't have the exact precise language then services will be denied. Or, if they do not even know that services exist, then it amounts to the same thing. Also helps to know exactly which bureaucrat from which department to ask for. If educators do not provide the answers then parents end up not being able to help their kids. If parents give up then the bureaucrats and administrators win. And the child loses. Big time. And, in the long run, so does society. We need more productive members of society. Not less. We certainly are the richer when we have diversity and that includes honoring and acknowledging all members of the community. Unless a person choose to be an anchorite, they have a right to be seen. And heard. This is a fundamental human right that is denied to Special Ed kids every day.

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