Today is the first day of Summer Vacation in my local school district. I wonder what the kids with disabilities are going doing this summer. I also wonder what's next for the students who graduated or "aged out".
One of these days I'll describe my school experiences, but not now. My thoughts about education and students with disabilities are mostly based on things I saw and learned about when I was working at our local Independent Living Center.
Let me start by saying that I met a lot of really great teachers and counselors who all wanted the best for their students. My issues with education, especially "Special Education", are systemic and ingrained ... a culture, really, that reshapes individuals more than individuals shape it. At least in our area, we seem to have more than our share of really good, decent, dedicated and forward-thinking teachers.
What disturbed me most in my encounters with education was the feeling ... hard to prove anecdotally ... that there are at least a few really smart kids with disabilities in each district who are unrecognized and wasted by a system mostly geared towards remedial work, behavioral control, and maybe, if they are lucky, some life skills training. History, literature, math, science, critical thinking, philosophy? Maybe, if we have time. It's like Special Ed teachers actually buy into and endorse the petulant teenagers lament about academics, "When am I ever going to use this?" To them, it seemed, diplomas and degrees really are just gate-keeping pieces of paper.
At conferences, any comments or questions I posed about maximizing academic aptitude and achievement were treated like they were embarrassingly off-topic ... met with polite nods and silence. I felt like a peacenik at a NATO summit; theoretically we had the same goal, but with vastly different assumptions, priorities, and tactics.
By the way, that analogy includes the very real possibility that as the "peacenik", I was being sadly naive.
Disability life, ideas, identity, culture, commentary, and politics.