Weekly Reading List

Two shelves of multicolored books

I had a harder time than usual coming up with five good articles to highlight this week. Maybe it's the Winter doldrums ...

Why "School Choice" Is Problematic For Students With Disabilities
Kris Guin, Thinking Person's Guide To Autism - February 15, 2017

This article does a pretty good job of calling attention to something I've thought for several years could become a huge political and policy problem in the world of "special education." Despite pretty good laws and regulations for making sure kids with disabilities get quality integrated education, kids and parents still struggle almost everywhere to make their schools comply and actually deliver. One result is that in frustration, parents of means increasingly turn to homeschooling and private "special" schools just for disabled students. Some of the most capable advocates basically give up on mainstreaming and chase the false promise of safety and specialization ... making segregated schooling for disabled students look like a premium option, rather than exclusion. The more this happens, the less pressure there is on public schools to do what they're supposed to do. I worry that Betsy DeVos' Education Department will embrace this even more, thereby creating the impression that they are catering to "special needs families," while in effect dodging their responsibilities.

Disabled, Shunned and Silenced in Trump's America
Melissa Blake, New York Times - February 15, 2017

This new installment in the New York Times' first-person series on disability directly addresses the anxiety of disabled people in the early weeks of the Trump Administration. I can relate. However, Blake focuses on two things that to me are pretty thin reasons for worry ... removal of disability-themed government websites and Trump's mocking last year of disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski. It's not that these are unimportant or insignificant signs. It's just that their exact significance is still hard to read. Meanwhile, very easy to read, concrete policies are already forming that we don't have to guess about or interpret. Still, it's not unusual for disabled people to have to rely on instinct instead of clear signaling to figure out where we stand. We need to keep our eyes on both what's actually happening, and on what may happen if our worst instincts turn out to be accurate.

Dear world: It isn't that hard to include my child with special needs
Ellen Seidman, Love That Max - February 16, 2017

It's a simple message, but one we sometimes forget. Inclusion usually isn't hard, and it often depends more on attitude than on actual logistics.

Canada is a progressive immigration policy dream - unless you have a disability
Carolyn Zaikowski, Washington Post - February 3, 2017

I have read more in-depth discussions of Canadian policies on immigrants with disabilities ... Kim Sauder's is excellent ... but it's important to see the issue in a mainstream publication like the Washington Post.

The Arc Responds to House Republican Leadership Plans to Repeal the Affordable Care Act and Decimate the Medicaid Program
The Arc - February 17, 2017

This is an unusually strong and detailed take-down of the latest Republican plans for health care. The fact that it comes from the Arc is doubly remarkable. For most of my life, the Arc embodied the traditional, medical-model, segregated and parent-centered wing of the broader disability sphere. It has also been the kind of national disability organization that has been carefully apolitical, trying hard to to offend potential supporters by being to strident and public in their advocacy. It's good to see that the Arc is finally coming down off the fence, seemingly on the more valid but challenging side.