Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Inclusion Delusion Exclusion

My 12 year old went to Starbucks yesterday for a field trip. It was an opportunity arranged by a very creative special education teacher who seeks out multisensory opportunities within the community for her students who follow a very different pattern of physical and emotional development.

Her student's lips and tongues felt the steam of warm milk and their nose absorbed the aroma of vanilla, chocolate, and hazelnut. Their ears were filled with soft music while their eyes gazed upon blurrs of energy created by the sounds and motions unlike their usual environment. Their fingertips touched foamy cream and nutbread.

It is no ordinary school my daughter attends. It is one of the remaining therapy centers supported by voters through the property taxes they elect to pay and the local school districts who can afford to pay. It is a school designed to offer individualized education opportunities for children like my daughter based on their their emerging abilities. It is one of the remaining MR/dd therapy centers throughout Ohio serving children like my daughter who cannot benefit from being in a cognition-driven school environment.

The federal and state government would like to see these therapy centers close forever because instead of seeing opportunity for our children with severe disabilities, they see a pile of money that could be used elsewhere. So they spin the a delusion through legislation and paperwork that district schools can somehow re-create these same opportunities within their own districts. Districts with crowded schools and crippled finances. Districts that cannot pass tax levies to support opportunities for typical developing youth. Schools designed for and driven by cognition, proficiency, and product.

Our US government has gone as far as mandating and enforcing all Ohio school districts to mainstream all the children within their district boundaries without offering additional funding or facilitities or staffing to re-create the environments and related learning opportunties. Mainsteaming driven by economics, not education and certainly not according to the individual child's ability.

The US government has taken a law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act established in 1975, and turned it around to be used against the individual. A law that we created to protect the individual rights of a child is now being used by the government giving this child no alternative except for what is offered through their district schools. A law that once protected the individual has become a law protecting the federal government from guarenteeing what rightfully belongs to the child.

The federal and state government has gone as far as creating a system weighted down by paperwork designed to "include" children like my daughter in their district's classroom but in reality exclude our children from the money that was inititially used to support alternative educational opportunities so they can have the same leverage as their biological peers. The paperwork they created signs away the right of the individual to the right of the school district so instead of our kids flying through a window of independence by their own design, they are expected to gain their independence forced through a one size fits all window.

Even more paperwork was created so our children can be removed from the classroom when they become a distraction or when the activity or subject matter goes beyond their ability or skill level instead of providing supplemental tools or adaptive equipment so the children can fully partipate same as their peers. It also excludes our children from learning in an environment designed to meet their individual developing abilities.

It also excludes some schools from providing nothing more for our children than a special ed teacher or specialist who travel from school to school to look in on our children for about 15 minutes a week or half hour twice a month in room with children with varying physical, cognition, and emotional disabilities and disorders. And the money that was once earmarked for our children's alternative opportunties goes into another pocket of the government.

In Ohio, it was the old "bait and switch" used on Ohio voters. A politician claiming he or she can save the voter 8 billion dollars here and there. A politician whose soap box supporting "values" stands in the middle of a dumping ground filled with "government waste. " The "government waste" money once earmarked for the therapy schools is earmarked for something else in government.

It's a scam made possible by eight years of political corruption that started at the federal level by creating the inclusion exclusion delusion.

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