Mainstream Consequences

Have a look at this recent story on Nightline.  Even if you’ve already seen it, watch it again.  Please.

Since you hopefully just watched that, I won’t waste our time by going over all of it.  But I will recap.  Concerns are arising over some of the disciplinary measures being taken in public schools when dealing with kids who have various behavioral problems, usually kids on the Autism Spectrum.  The word “barbaric” gets used a few times, as you might have noticed.

As I was watching this, I was shocked.  And since I try to always be as honest with you as possible, I’ll tell you something else: nothing good could come from a teacher, or anyone else, using those methods on my daughter.  If someone shocked her as a punishment, I would have no choice but to do the whole Terminator thing and drive my f****** van right through the front of the school.  That’s all. Ditto on tying her to a table.

I try very, very hard to be an open minded person.  I know how difficult it can be to deal with behavior problems.  I know how impossible it can be to control these kids.  Some of them are big kids.  They try to hurt others, and they try to hurt themselves.  Even Evelyn, limited though she is, can really kick up hell when she wants to.  I know sometimes the only way to deal with her is just to not deal with her, if you follow.  She has to just sort of let it out, and I know the more I try to intervene, the worse it makes her.  You know how, when you are trying not to cry, and someone pats you or talks to you in a soothing voice, it makes you cry even more?  Same thing.

Anyway, as I said, I am trying to understand the thinking behind these extreme measures, and I always treat everything reported by the media with great suspicion.  I know a story can be twisted in many ways, and I know that we don’t know the back stories to these situations.

But they shocked that kid.  They shocked him.

I’ll tell you another one that got me: when the man was holding the little boy, and the boy’s mother was trying to get the man to let the boy go.  Ha, ha.  The man would have let my child go.  Oh yes.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m not one of those people who think I can whip everyone’s ass.  Far from it.  I’m getting older and squishy and I’m getting arthritis in my fingers.  If I punched someone it would probably hurt me more than them.  But make no mistake–I’m not pushover, either.  I would get my child out of the arms of anyone restraining her against our will, or die in the attempt.

So, what is my point?  Good question.  After my initial emotional response passes, I don’t think those people using those methods are intending to be barbarians.  It seems to me like they are uneducated and inexperienced. They lack the knowledge, patience, and understanding required to deal with these kids.  Did you see the other school?  The Centennial School?  The one with all the kids with behavior problems?  Did you see how good the teachers were at dealing with the kids, and how caring and informed the administrator was?  If you missed it, watch the video again.  Pay attention.

Has anyone caught up with me yet?

Want to know how we go to this situation?  Want to know how things got this far out of control?

Mainstreaming.

They even mentioned it in the video, though they never addressed it directly.  But it’s there.  I’ve talked about this before, but I think it bears repeating.  Let me make it as clear as I can: this is the kind of shit that happens when you put special needs kids in a “regular” education environment! Regular ed teachers cannot provide the attention needed for a special ed kid and the other fifty kids they have to teach to take tests.  It’s not possible, and I don’t care how fabulous the teacher is.

You know what it is?  It’s babysitting.  That’s all it is.  Glorified, really expensive baby sitting.  A bunch of politically correct bullshit that makes everyone feel “good” that these kids aren’t being segregated or made to feel different.

Here’s a frickin’ news flash, which I have flashed previously: they ARE different! All of the wishing in the world won’t change it.  I can put Evelyn in the regular ed classroom until the end of time, and she still won’t be a regular ed student.  What could she possibly get out of a regular ed classroom?

From what I can tell, about 60 volts.  Or maybe tied to a table.

I find it amazing that my own state of West Virginia is among the seventeen that have laws in place to protect children from this type of extreme discipline.  Maybe there is hope for us after all.  Otherwise, there are no federal guidelines.  I guess it’s a sort of “anything goes” type situation.

But the bottom line is this:  it will only get worse.  The increase in behavioral disorders is astronomical.  Where do we go?  What do we do?  I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t pretend to, but I do know one thing.  The answers will not be found inside a mainstream classroom.

And remember, if you hear a news story about some parent parking her van in the principle’s office, send me a prayer.


 

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4 thoughts on “Mainstream Consequences

  1. Well, that was horrendous. This was my first time seeing this appalling clip.

    I think you make a very, very good point about main-streaming, which itself I think is another example of a “utopian” theory/belief which like most utopian ideas does not work in reality.
    Rachel recently posted..Raising Cynics and DoubtersMy Profile

    • That’s a great and very fitting word. It’s just right. Sadly, reality has the habit of not conforming to our ideals. Damn you, reality!

  2. Ugh. Sickening is not a strong enough word for this. It makes me cry.

    I thank G-d every day for Rivka’s school, and that they understand her limitations, and know when they’ve pushed her too far. When she feels the need to hide under her desk and “check out”, they leave her alone, and call me at the end of the day to tell me that she’s having anxiety problems again. Then they work on solutions with me to help her – and then they USE them!

    To me, it’s nothing short of a freakin’ miracle from Heaven, after she’s been bounced from so many other schools. She’s not even violent or defiant, but so many other places declared her “unteachable” without even listening to me. It’s horrible how quickly these kids get written off, like they are just brushing away a pesky mosquito.

    G-d bless Graham Hill school in Seattle!

    • You are blessed. While we don’t a whole school for Evelyn, she is in a special classroom for the “moderate,” “severe,” and “profound.” I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it turned out to be quite good. The teacher and the aids are all trained to deal with various little things like seizures, behavior issues, you name it. She even rides a special bus.

      The flip side of that coin is that it is kind of a secret that the kids are in that classroom all day. That is considered segregation. They have to write it up in their IEPs that they are spending so much time in a regular ed environment. I swear I am not making that up. They cannot spend the whole day in the special education classroom. It is beyond ridiculous. But again, it is a lot better than the alternative, so I don’t want to complain too much. I’m glad we have it. Maybe we should move to Seattle. I’ve always wanted to move to the Northwest anyway.

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