Dear candidates,

Why is this campaign focused on people named Joe who have six packs abs and plumbing apprenticeships? There are seven people in this house and none of them fit those categories. You can put a lot of other labels on us, but when you do toss one of our labels around like a wooden carrot on a stick, it makes me queasy. Your words are hollow and meaningless. Are you saying that the other candidate doesn’t care about the millions struggling to get treatment for that diagnosis? Don’t just repeat a statistic you have memorized. Tell us exactly what you would do to help identify causes, get diagnosed, access treatment and achieve potential. Otherwise, stick to your talking points because the disability community isn’t buying what you’re selling.

I truly believe that your spouses and staff are the only ones who have really interacted with schools. You have obviously been briefed by your staff about some of the issues surrounding education, but your words reveal the complete lack of understanding of the public school system‘s strengths and weaknesses. Vouchers and charters have increased segregation and accelerated the decay of inner city schools. As long as children with disabilities are excluded from private schools, public dollars should NOT be used to support private schools. As long as the people who move into urban areas and claim they are revitalizing the area while sending their children to private schools, WE are largely responsible for the state of our schools. The only place I won’t accept culpability is where the government has promised funding and failed to keep their word. Where is the money you promised the schools with IDEA? I don’t want to hear the pandering “throw good money after bad.” I want to hear you say that it costs far less to provide an education than to be completely dependent on the social services system for an entire life.

Do either of you actually know a plumber? I just can’t picture you calling one, waiting for one or listening to them explain why a pipe is broken. Someone else does that for you. Are you listening to that employee? I know you are not listening to me. I’m just a mom.

14 thoughts on “Dear candidates,

  1. As long as children with disabilities are excluded from private schools

    You’re going to have explain your reasoning on this one. Where did you ever get that idea?

  2. Are you serious? Walk in any support group and ask the parents who have been turned away from a private school to raise their hand. I know my hand would be raised. “We are not a therapeutic school.” “It wouldn’t be fair to the normal students and their parents.”

  3. Then don’t make blanket statements about all private schools and all handicapped children. It creates the wrong message, based on your experience with private school admissions, and those of some people you know.

  4. never quite understood why the people screaming for vouchers wouldn’t want to put that money to improving the schools we already have.

  5. Do you mean you don’t understand why parents who send their kids to private school wouldn’t rather put that money into the school system? Well, for starters it’s over and above what we’re taxed and why put money into a system that’s broken for reasons that don’t really have anything to do the amount of money it has?

    If I have an up-coming kindergartner and I’ve set aside x dollars to send to private school, then I will see an immediate benefit to that child after a year. And after 2 years when first grade is over. And so on. If I just add my money to a growing pool of dollars distributed to the public schools to supplement what I’m already taxed for, how would that benefit my kindergartner in public school today? How would it benefit him when he’s a public school first grader next year? Do we truly believe extra money will solve all those problems immediately?

    If I have a 5-yr-old, I have a responsibility to see to my child’s future right now, not starting 5-10 years from now.

    (as an aside, I feel the same way about being asked to “contribute” to the school over and above the tuition I pay. If they can’t make do with the money they get from me, then they need to do better with managing what they have and don’t ask me for more as a “contribution”. This applies to general funds, not special projects like upgrading a playground or purchasing new computers)

    If you want to change the public school system, don’t throw money at it – change the culture. Run for school board or heavily advise your local board member. Work to remove all political influence from curriculum decisions (both conservative and liberal), get involved in the working of the school, make friends with the teachers, meet the principals, volunteer to lead a club. Help find new resources the schools can use to supplement its materials. The solution is not more money, it’s time and attention and caring.

    Cathy does all that, and I applaud her for it. She cares passionately about her kids and their education and I’m proud when I see her raising her voice for what’s right.

  6. Sorry, meant to clarify that yes, teachers should be paid more and the system can use more money for that. I do understand that is one way more money can help alleviate problems. But they have to be respected by their students, the parents and administration for their skills and dedication to the kids. They’re often unappreciated and stress is high to do a noble job for little pay. But I think the need for more pay is lessened when the teachers feel better about the effect they’re having on the kids and that their work is appreciated.

    In other words, raise the cultural level of their work environments and huge raises will be less of an issue. We won’t be merely compensating them for their troubles.

  7. oooh no I don’t have a problem with people who send their children to private schools,if you can afford it that is great, I can not. I am a product of private schools(and a public one till 4th grade),my parents switched to Catholic school because at the time they were better than the public schools in my hometown. For my folks it was the quality of education. It was the same for me & my husband when we went house hunting, we literally shopped according to school zone. I think we can agree all schools in the area are not created equal? It would be nice if they were, every child deserves a chance. And I think if money could be found for vouchers why not improve the schools already open?
    We’ve got an 8 year old and have been looking towards his future from birth as well, if you wait till the teen years it’s a little late 🙂

  8. I actually do know a plumber, he’s a family friend. His name however is Ilya so I guess he doesn’t fit the mold.
    Count me too, my son who has Aspergers (and an IQ in a gifted range) was waitlisted from a private school for two reasons, 1) he was “in his own world” during class, and 2) he spent a total of 8 hours visiting the school over two different days two months apart, and did not make any friends during that time. You know what? Their loss. It was five years ago, he’s in 10th grade now, doing great, and his *public* school is proud of him. I saved a ton of money, and they saved themselves the trouble of educating an Aspie. I’m just saying this to agree with Cathy that yes, these things happen. In their defense, though, he was not yet diagnosed at the time. He was just a quirky kid with hardly any social skills who did well on their entrance tests.
    Paula, I hear you, we house-shopped by the school zone too.

  9. Guilty of being urbanite with private school step-kid, as well as special needs step-kid who was forced into public school because of his needs (Aspergers). That said, I do not begrudge the public schools any money they need in order to improve, and will pay whatever taxes are required in order to improve education for everybody. Because, remember, ignorance and poorly educated comes with a tax too. And we’re the ones who pay that on the back end. However, the system here is broken. I don’t know what it will take to fix it, but I do not agree that vouchers are an answer. Vouchers only work for middle to upper income households. For low income households they are more pie in the sky. Maybe allowing Teachers to actually teach instead of programming kids for yearly tests? There’s an idea… that seems to be out of date but still relevant.

  10. Well I know very little about vouchers and stuff but it does anger me that the mother of a 6 ?month old with down syndrome is claiming they really know much at all about kids with disabilities and special needs. It seems she’s just barely begun her journey in that area.

    I think you are 20x more qualified than Palin.

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