Thursday, February 12, 2015

Don't Be Distracted

Photo of a stack of newspapers with "Breaking News! in bold headline type
David Ferguson, Raw Story - February 10, 2015

The thing to remember about these incidents where people in caregiving positions lose their shit and spew vile ableism, is that its all too easy to focus on the awfulness of the individual.

Id bet real money that behind this principals rant is what she considers a coherent, probably brave and rational philosophy of disability and education. It seems like she believes that most of her students are horrible monsters  probably not truly disabled in her eyes  who are far too coddled and indulged. She seems to think that the kids are deluded, too, and need to be told in the harshest terms that they are regarded by others as inferior, and will continue to be so unless they shape up. She’s there to whip them into shape and tell it like it is. If this is anything like her thinking, she is not alone.

Its also important to note that this kind of ideology and behavior flourishes much more easily in segregated, disability-only special needs schools and classrooms. Fewer people see what happens there every day, and the special needs moniker is like a protective halo, shielding everyday practice from scrutiny and criticism.

The terrible irony, of course, is that there are probably quite a few families who chose to place their kids in this school because they feared they would be ground down and bullied in a “mainstream” environment. Separate and special often sound “safe”, when in fact, they are just as often the exact opposite.

It's about more than a terrible person. It's a terrible system.