The Know Nothings Are Alive and Preaching
Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee are at it again. The know-nothing Washington Post education columnist has proclaimed that 80% of the kids receiving special education do not need that label. They are not disabled. He does not share how he knows this, he just does. He has for years been advocating the demise of special education for all but the most severely disabled children. His latest column celebrates the opinions of a man who had two terms on the school board of Baltimore City and even deputy mayor of Baltimore. If he knows so much how come he left the city’s schools in the same mess that he found them. And in his long list of self-congratulatory positions, being a public school teacher or any kind of teacher is not among them. Both the columnist and the town-crier have proclaimed that the kids in special education have been captured by myths- whatever that means- and do not really have learning challenges at all. According to this view only children with Down syndrome, severe autism or visual and hearing impairments are truly disabled. All the rest of the students have just been “dumped” into special education.
Being in special education could hardly be a worse situation for the struggling learners according to these two wise men. The advocate knows an instructional system that would raise all boats, including the poor souls struggling in special education but the school districts won’t use it because they are “uncomfortable” with it. If he knows so much why didn’t he implement this magical system when he was deputy mayor or on the City school board? Unfortunately, this wonderful system can’t be implemented because the districts lack the “imaginative” people like these two.
Funny how these two who have yet to get their hands dirty doing the hard work of actually working with kids, know everything to do but haven’t done it. Perhaps they need to attend the high school graduation of a child who could not read at all after six years in mainstream fully-included classes and is now graduating with a high school diploma and, yes, can read at a level that allows for community college attendance. Or maybe they would like to see the face of a child who has been shunned for being weird among the other “not disabled” age-mates in general ed classes, when that child stars in a performing arts presentation. How many parents have they spoken with whose kids were not accepted, or tormented or bullied by both staff and plain students- then tell me how bad it is to be in special ed classes with specially trained staff who have skills to address these learning issues. Oh and are people who really WANT to be with these students who learn differently.
It is all fine to make proclamations about who needs specialized instruction and who is disabled and who is not. To co-opt a line from The Christmas Carol, in the eyes of the informed, these know-nothings may be the most disabled of all.