Dear e-mail members (free and paid),
As US readers know, this is the holiday for celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Welcome to the holiday issue. I’ll have more about MLK in the commentary.
I was not markedly productive this past week. What there was, though, I’ll list in subsequent notes. First, here’s an overview of this newsetter’s contents. You’ll find an updated status report for the site and the newsletter, a table of contents for the past week (as mentioned), and a bit of commentary at the end.
Also, here are special thanks to the dozens of people who are paid subscribers. Y’all rock! You keep the party afloat! I’m especially pleased to note that one subscriber elected the sustainer level of support.
Over the past week, Special Education Today saw some growth in the number of e-mail subscribers. SET is still south of 500 subscribers, but not by many. Though the number rises and falls (I think we lost one and gained a coupla-three), this is progress. From the 180-ish I imported from SpedTalk in May 2021, our community is now approaching 2.5-3 times that size...we’ve grown! Of course, I’d like it to grow way much larger.
Special Education Today by John Wills Lloyd is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
A lot of this growth can be attributed to you e-mail members telling others about SET. Thank you!
From the data about visits, I can tell some of you apparently forward the newsletter to lots—a dozen or two dozen peeps—regularly. Yay! Please encourage those friends and colleagues to sign up for FREE now (or even, better yet, to start a PAID sub!). Just add a little line of text at the top of your forward saying, “I recommend that you consider joining the SET e-mail list.” Thanks!
It’s wonderful to see readers contributing by sharing what they like and dropping comments. I see you, Larry M., Jane B., Clay K., Joel M. Shu-Fei T., Jeannie KT, Tina C., Mary K., and Karen A.
Special thanks to readers who’ve commented recently (Vince. W., Dan H., and any others whom I overlooked). I watch those comments closely. They are a like opportunities to have conversations with readers, so briing ‘em on!
Thanks, too, to those readers who are sharing on other media: Twitter, metapoop, and others. Facebook, of all places, seems to be referring readers!
Table of recent contents
As I mentioned, I was a tad slack this past week. There were only two new posts. Please remember that you can find the latest SET posts by simply going to the main page at https://www.specialeducationtoday.com.
Robert Ethan Saylor, who had Down Syndrome and used a wheelchair, died 10 years ago—Who remembers his death? Why is this important?
You should consult IRIS resources often—Why would practitioners want to know about effective practices? Uhm...?
I mentioned at the beginning of this issue that people in the US use this time of year to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., and his contributions to the USA. In my view, there are lots of good reasons to celebrate Dr. King’s participation in American democracy.
Dr. King was a leader who used his extraordinary rhetorical skills to advocate for fundamental principles of democracy. He was a visionary who influenced outstanding citizens such as John Lewis and Julian Bond, and he mentored an entire society. He coached a country to solve problems using non-violent means. He showed the world that Mahatma Ghandi had excellent strategies and tactics, and received a Nobel Peace Prize. In my book, those are outstanding accomplishments.
What does Dr. King’s work have to do with disabilities and special education? Some folks point to discrimination on the basis of race, one of the foundational problems (along with poverty and violence, among others) that Dr. King sought to remedy, as equivalent to discrimination on the basis of disability. This argument by analogy has appeal, but I fear it misses the mark in some ways.
To the extent that discrimination on such bases is inappropriate, it is a good argument. To the extent that it treats race and disability as equivalent it presents problems.
One obvious problem is that disability doesn’t know race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, height or weight, eye color, country of origin, wealth, etc. Disability can befall people regardless of those factors.
Educators should not single out individuals for differential education because of their ethnicity, but educators have a legal responsibility to identify students with disabilities for differential education.
There are others ways that this argument by analogy fails. Readers are welcome to list some in the comments...or to argue that it is a perfectly fine analogy.
By my comments here, I do not mean that efforts by Dr. King and others to promote civil rights, tolerance, and peace are misguided. To the contrary, I hope people will exalt them, emulate them!
Nor do I hope to discredit efforts to promote the civil rights and recognition that individuals with disabilities deserve. Our students, daughters and sons, kids should be treated like real people, just like we want to be treated as real people. Individuals’ disabilities do not make them any less human, any less derserving of humane care than anyone else.
I also hope that we educators will honor Dr. Kings’ legacy by explaining disabilities for what they are, not diluting them by stretching analogies.
Readers, please let me know how it’s going. Send me a DM via Twitter @JohnWillsLloyd or write to me directly (my name and e-mail addresses are plastered on many walls around the intertubes). If you got this newsletter via your e-mail and you’re a subscriber, you can probably simply reply and—automagically—your reply will come to me.
Also, allow me close with other usual admonitions: Please remember to wear your seatbelts; take appropriate COVID-19 precautions (e.g., vaccinations, ventilation, hand-washing, masking were needed, etc.); and teach your children well.
SET Editor guy
SET should not be confused with a product with a similar name that is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades.
Peggy and I were involved in an early civil rights, bi-racial group, later it became the Tuscaloosa branch of the SCLC, inspired in part, by Dr. King’s leadership.
That inspiration helped guide us to the successful effort to develop a federal policy embracing “Free, appropriate, Public, Education”, PL 94-142. Federal and State courts found Constitutional bases, (14th Amendment, primarily), for “appropriate” education, which be law meant special educational instruction specifically designed for a given child’s educational needs. (This plan included needed related services, physical, psychological, speech and language, etc.)
The crux of Dr. King’s work was the entrenched system of racial segregation in law, including the “separate but equal” school policy ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court years earlier, (1954).
These worthy causes support each other, but there is a specific requirement in federal Special Education Law, that defines education for children with disabilities, not just inclusion in a classroom, but an Individual Education Plan, developed specifically for a child’s specific educational needs.