- Will Rogers
Amongst all the talk of the economy, the meaning of the words "community organizer", and which pig is wearing lipstick right now, special needs has become a major topic of this year's election. It actually has been all along - both candidates released statements concerning their views on autism which an be read here. Of course, special needs is more in the forefront now with the addition of a vice presidential candidate with a special needs child. And indeed, Governor Palin has said that if elected she will work on behalf of special needs children and adults.
Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama supported the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (or at least Senator Obama supports fully funding the Act, since he was not yet in Congress when it passed. Senator McCain supports full funding as well). But does that really translate into action after January 23 (remember "Read my lips...")? And does having a special needs child mean that you will make changes to assist those with special needs? I mean, our Governor here in Montana has a child on the autism spectrum, but I don't think he's done too much to address the needs of special needs during the past four years.
One can only hope so. But at this point, their words are just that - words. They have absolutely no meaning at all.
I am particularly concerned about education, and IDEA. Under IDEA, we, as special needs parents, as entitled to a free and appropriate public education for our children in the least restricted environment. Some people are fortunate that they actually receive this. Most of us, however do not. Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama support fully funding IDEA. Fine. Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama support better pay for teachers. Fine. In short, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama support throwing money at the problem.
But is money the answer?
Here is what I want:
- I want teachers who want to teach, not teachers who teach just because they can make good money.
- I want teachers who actually have training in how to teach special needs children, not a teacher who is qualified to teach a special needs child because he or she has had one in their class before.
- I want SLPs and OTs and school psychologists who are not afraid to truly tell what a special needs child needs for services, for fear of being fired.
- I want better qualifications for paraprofessionals.
- I want IEP meetings that are productive, and that don't make you feel like you are at your public lynching.
- I want teachers who mistreat others, like the teacher of Alex Barton, to be fired on the spot and have their teaching credentials revoked.
- I want the same thing to happen to school officials who support such atrocities.
- I want the horrid No Child Left Behind law revoked and replaced with one that actually lives up to its intent.
Senator McCain? Senator Obama? Are you listening?