You need to read the previous post and comments if you are interested in following this one.
I thought I was writing a post disagreeing with another blogger’s use and definition of “special education” and some other issues, and I end up getting beat-up by “friends” …
First, the use of the r-word. Four years ago I stood in front of a judge, in a court of law, and had to swear that Pearlsky was “retarded.” The word came up a few times. Educators who hate the word often do refer to “MR” (not “mister” but M. R.) which is code for mentally retarded. They will say things, all in a “good” sense, “If the testing shows MR we will …” In my book, saying MR is the same as saying mentally retarded. Now, of course I get the vileness of the word when kids are teasing each other, etc. and in my day being called a “spaz” or “spastic” was really bad and hurtful, but Pearlsky is very spastic. Yes, there are times I use the word for effect (see here), and I do generally refrain from using it, but personally, I don’t think it puts me in bed with Ann Coulter when I use it (an argument can be made that Ms. Coulter suffers from MR …).
“He does not get that being a bright, articulate man in a wheelchair has absolutely nothing to do with us and our children. His disability has nothing in common with Pearlsky’s other than neither can walk.” In facing discrimination, social alienation and battles for accommodation, he has everything in common with “our children”. (comment from last post)
I can only speak for myself and Pearlsky, but she has faced NO discrimination, social alienation nor battle for accommodation. There are negative reactions to the two of us in that me being a single father taking care of a young woman, but that is it. We have been to water parks and hotels with no problem. No issues in public, restaurants, etc. I really don’t see how there is even a weak tie between anything Mr. Peace claims to experience and what Pearlsky faces.
“His disability, his world, has nothing to do with special education.” Perhaps, but I think you are incredibly naive to imagine that individuals in wheelchairs, intellectually competent as they may be, do not face stigma and assumptions about their intellectual abilities in school. What is the law and what is actually happening in schools is another affair also. (Ibid.)
One must understand that anything out of the norm costs a school money. Implementing a 504 plan, and especially implementing an IEP, costs money (two of the primary parts of “special education”). A lot of money. The school does not make negative assumptions about the intellectual abilites of anyone, that is NOT in their best interest. It is often a fight to get special accommodations or an IEP. I have never met a single educator (and especially not a single administrator) who makes a negative intellectual assumption about any child simply by knowing there is a wheelchair involved. Sorry, but I do not buy this.
Not all can afford an advocate, not all represent themselves or their child’s interests very well. (Ibid.)
Free advocacy for any of my readers who cannot afford my rates. Period.
Furthermore, many wheelchair users do ride “the short bus” which is usually also called the “retard bus” because few (are there any even?) regular buses that carry the other children that go to school have lifts on them. I imagine only the adults around you call it “Pearlsky’s bus”. Hang around the other high school kids for a while. Short bus = stigma.
I took issue with his quote, ” “Special education” buses are routinely referred to in secondary schools as the “retard bus” ” primarily because of his use of the word “routinely.” “Routinely” as in “standard practice” or “regularly” or “habitually”? I asked, nothing derogatory is known to be said at Pearlsky’s “normal” high school. I asked a few people. Four parents of “typical” kids had no clue of this. Maybe it is routine at the college where Mr. Peace teaches, and I can not argue if he is talking about first hand knowledge, but it is not routine around here. Is there a stigma being on the “short bus”? Maybe, if some school kid cares enough to think about it. Is it “routinely referred to in secondary schools as the “retard bus”” … I doubt it.
Remember, our kids, ALL KIDS, are entitled to a FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE) in the LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE). They should be as mainstreamed as possible while ensuring an appropriate education. A parent complaining that their lazy child only gets C’s does not have a case for special education; students are not guaranteed a superior education, nor a straight A education, but an appropriate education.
An appropriate education is guaranteed and in as “normal” a placement as possible. That may be a regular class room, it may be in a resource room, it may be in a special education room. It may include basic algebra or it may include trying to hit a switch.
Did Pearlsky get an “appropriate” education? Good question. But if not, whose fault? The schools? The parent? The holy one, blessed be She?