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Re: "GOING TOO FAR FOR DISABLED CHILDREN"
- Subject: Re: "GOING TOO FAR FOR DISABLED CHILDREN"
- From: Michael Peterson <j_m_peterson@WAYNE.EDU>
- Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 10:03:47 -0400
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- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
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Sorry, for the separate post again. But wanted George to respond to this
question you asked up front.
"Is the "Inclusion" horror story fact or fraud? Has anyone checked?"
This particular story? I don't know. However, I do personally know a few
parents and their kids who could be thought of as fitting this description
(from a particular perspective).
For example, I know a young woman I will call Tracy (not her real name) who
is severely mentally retarded (we think). She has no real language except a
bit of 'yes' and 'no' using a version of sign. The way she communicates is
through crude gestures, grunts, and facial expressions -- an amazing smile
and very deep frowns. Until she was age 12 she was in a separate special
education school -- one of those 'center' programs Nancy talked about. Her
mother pulled her out of this school when she discovered she was being
physically abused. With some help by myself and some other friends, she
began asking that her daughter be 'included', with support, in a typical
high school. After many meetings worth many thousands of dollars, what made
the difference was a local coach and faculty sponsor of a service club.
They brought Tracy's situation to this group of kids who found it an
outrage that she could not go to their school. Since both the coach and the
kids, by who they were, had significant political connections, this
situation began to change quickly. Eventually Tracy ended up 1/2 day in a
high school with a special class but where she spent a lot of time in
regular education classes and another 1/2 day at another high school (her
Now depending upon who you are you might could describe Tracy in the way
that this article does and decry the stupidity. I am sure some people in
the high school, in fact, do that. However, you can also see other very
different things happening here. You can see the 60 kids who showed up to
help plan her being a part of the high school. You can see how these same
kids reached out to her a the annual banquet for the service club. You can
see the shift in atmosphere taht truly, or so I think, makes a bit of a
dint in the typical competitive spirit of schooling, when kids like this,
and others with milder issues, are an integral part of the school.
And so again one has to ask why there are such things as 'center' programs
where we spend up to $40,000 per year per child of this sort. What would
schools be like if everywhere literally all kids went to school together.
And is that too much to ask for?
Like was said here recently, not saleable politically.
And what does all this have to do with the purpose of this list?
>September 13, 1999
>Michael (Nancy, et al.)...
>Is the "Inclusion" horror story fact or fraud? Has anyone checked?
>One of the reasons I'm always suspicious of certain types of academic writing
>(as opposed to scientific and journalistic, at their best) is that they are
>subject to the abuse of anonymity. The only place where the writing comes as
>close to those affectations we often find in "academic" stuff is in the "non
>fiction" stuff in Cosmo and its competitors ("Janet, a 28-year-old publicist
>and inveterate Himalayan trekker, has been pursuing the perfect orgasm with
>the zeal that Costa Rican surfers pursue the perfect wave...").
>The "case study" described in that hysterical document on disabilities that
>you posted, Michael, sounds like the stuff of an urban legend, and before
>pursuing it too far, I'd demand to know what child in what school was being
>placed under what circumstances. An old motto of Chicago's City News Bureau
>was, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." Always we come back
>to Who, What, When, Where and Why.
>Here in Chicago we've had some of the most rabid radical inclusion in the
>nation in recent years. I had direct experience with it recently, and even
>before "mainstreaming" became "inclusion" in my own classrooms. When real
>schools and real classes with real teachers and real children are involved,
>we owe it to everyone to get the facts straight and solve the problem, if
>there is one. Here are two example from my career, then some observations.
>I walked into a remedial English II class five years ago (at Chicago's Bowen
>High School) to find that in addition to the usual 10th graders (with severe
>social problems, economic deprivation, and reading delays), I had Tiffany
>Wells (her real name; now an adult, then a child), who was autistic. Tiffany
>was sitting there like everyone else, and with no teacher aide or any
>notification that anything special had just happened. It was the first day,
>and everyone was very busy. After the third time she pointed at me, stood up,
>and said "Teacher!" I looked at the attendance book and there was a small
>note "AU" beside her name. I'd never seen it before and guessed (we've had LD
>and SLD for years, but AU and a few of the others were always way beyond what
>we were expected to take in those "regular" remedial classes with 28 students
>and no teacher aide.
>Tiffany was a real person, not a concocted urban legend. It took real work to
>provide here with the additional services she needed. The rest of the class
>learned a lot working with her. Many of them had their own terrible problems
>as well, but all of them worked with Tiffany and helped on our common
>project. We were able to do that, but not without extra support (a very good
>teacher aide), and I was always angry that Chicago always dumped the
>Tiffanies into classes like mine which had 27 or 29 other kids with serious
>problems (although nothing along the lines of autism).
>Over the next three years, with a lot of cooperation (parents, regular
>teachers like me, special education people, and, importantly, the school
>administration) we did a lot of successful work with Tiffany. She did work
>study work in the lunchroom, for example, and had a great time at the prom.
>Graduation day was a heart warming success.
>We need to remind ourselves these things have been going on in our public
>school classrooms for generations, despite all the abuse that is heaped on
>the public schools and those of us who work in them. Another example I
>remember from my own classes was just as interesting as Tiffany.
>More than a decade ago (at Chicago's Amundsen High School), I had the same
>experience with a guy named Charley Wildner, who was seriously ED (the
>classification at that time). Three years of what we called "mainstreaming"
>(and all of his English classes in my "computer classroom") made it possible
>for Charley to graduate and go on to a productive career in banking, but the
>stories of the 13 and 14-year-old Charley would curl your hair (especially
>his misogyny). Again, it took a lot of screaming before any additional
>resources were provided for the child, and again the hypocrisy of claiming he
>was "mainstreamed" (i.e., in today's jargon, "included") with no additional
>support at the classroom level was scandalous.
>I know that autistic Tiffany Wells and ED Charley Wildner really existed in
>real classrooms, because they were in my classroom and I am certain I can
>contact them today if I want to. In fact, I've seen both of them from time to
>time since their graduation.
>But that piece of writing that was circulated earlier sounds like a
>concoction. Without being subjected to either the journalistic or scientific
>standards of proof and reality, it may well be a "composite" situation, and I
>would challenge the person who alleges this problem to identify the Who,
>What, When, Where and Why before we pursue it too far. Short of that, to me
>it's obviously a set up by someone who wants to roll back some of the
>benefits of inclusions, and until it's proven to be based on a real situation
>(which can be solved), I would be skeptical about the integrity of the
>individual who told the tale.
>Why delve into this at all? It's the investigative reporter in me coming out.
>Reporters and newspapers are always getting burned by attempts to spin the
>news, but it's only been in the '90s (and with "School Reform" in place like
>Chicago) that the hype has almost completely replaced fact. I hope there are
>some people who remember "Jimmy's World," the Washington Post story about the
>nine-year-old junkie, told so artfully by young (and beautiful and
>multicultural) Post reporter Janet Cooke about ten years ago. Cooke purported
>to do a gritty series on the real problems of urban D.C. When Cooke reported
>that "Jimmy" was being shot up with heroin by his "uncle," Washington police
>and others demanded to know the identify of the child, since his life was
>clearly in danger. Cooke stood firm behind her "journalistic" protections and
>almost cooked all of our gooses. Later (only when the Post put her in for a
>Pulitzer and it turned out she had cooked her own resume) did an
>investigation take place and it turned out that "Jimmy" never existed and
>that Fagin of an uncle was a fictional product of the mind of Janet Cooke.
>It's nasty (impolite, insensitive, politically less than correct) to ask for
>sourcing and scientific proof, but in the face of the heaps of horror relayed
>in that piece, we must. After all, if that is really happening somewhere,
>both the rest of the class and the child in question need additional
>services. And it the tale is another "Jimmy's World", then everyone needs to
>expose the author for the fraud he is.
>George N. Schmidt
>5132 W. Berteau
>Chicago, IL 60641
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Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan 48202
Inclusive community and democracy
Whole Schooling Consortium
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