FB skimming got me to this floor statement written by Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama (in May 2000):
Education Discipline and Idea
The ideas were more likely about distracting from the real issue, which was that the federal government had been falling short of providing the funding it had promised for special needs students.
Fast forward to 2016, and Sessions being in the spotlight now as a possible U.S. Attorney General.
This article dips into my concerns:
Some of my words:
His letter reemphasized for me how easily facts can be swamped by anecdotes, and whole populations can be stigmatized for political purposes. If you read what he wrote 16 years ago, you get the impression that all special needs children (at least in Alabama) are violent, spoiled, over diagnosed, incapable of gratitude, are terrorizing their peers and teachers, are all capable of attacking their bus drivers, and are the reason our education system is falling behind. He's nice about it, but the goal is to take pressure off the fact that the federal government was falling way short of the promised funding for special needs children to be included in classrooms, and instead, 'let's ask ourselves if we really want these kids in regular schools,' subtext. Granted, I know people who likely think it isn't their responsibility to pay tax money which would help these kids remain included in the public school system, and many of those people will be needing our tax money in a few short years to cover the cost of their hospital bills for things like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia -- so if we're going to play tit for tat -- my son will be paying taxes to help cover those deficits thanks to his extraordinary education. He will get into a good college, find a good job, make a good living, and contribute back to the society that supported him when he needed it. We will make sure of this as his parents, but we couldn't have gotten this far without the help of his schools.
Keep in mind, this was my nightmare back in the day, that people would associate any label with the potential for public threat, or financial drain that slows down all of the other 'normal' children, and this does happen a lot, believe it or not. So, I read his words and recognized that my anxieties from ten year back were justified, and though he might be tempted to use our story today to prove something or other about parental dedication, 'I didn't mean you. I meant children with uninvolved parents,' I would have to stand up strongly and insist that Jack's inclusion in classrooms has not only been good for him, but for our entire family, knowing this society will be here for us. In turn, we do whatever we can to be there for it. I realize not everyone shares my views these days, and lots of people have decided it's time to stop helping others, and that's why it took me ten years to admit openly that my son needed extra help in school -- I was so afraid of people only focusing on that and not his gifts. Now that we're so close to graduation, I'm relieved -- but it's an empty feeling, worrying about other families, other kids...We were supposed to go forward!
If our culture shifts back to excluding children, or demonizing the ones who are different, and this becomes acceptable to gossip about in public spheres again, I can't say I'll be surprised, but I will be incredibly disappointed.
You can write your Representatives, and help out with this issue. Please do!
Link to send an online message.
© Copyright 2016 Angeline Larimer