179

I HAVE BEEN TO THE GYM 14/17 DAYS THIS MONTH.

Image does not represent the abs of the author.

Image does not represent the abs of the author.

This means one of two things:  1.  I have eaten a ton of cookies.  2.  I am feeling moderatly anxious.  Actually, it is neither.  I just thought I'd give going to the gym on a regular basis a go.  Except for crawling out of bed at 4:15 a.m., it's pretty good.  It does help me sleep better, and keep my anxiety levels down - so you know, bonus.

I've got reason to be anxious.  (I know my Mom is quoting, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything give prayer and supplication).  Maybe anxious is the wrong word.  I've got strong CONCERNS about some of the people stepping into power.

Can we talk about the position of Secretary of Education?  If you have twitter, you are probably aware that people have been twitting about Betsy Devos.  I had to stop watching the hearing last night because it was freaking me out.  A. Lot.

It isn't just that she has NO experience as a teacher or an administrator.  It isn't just that she has no experience managing school loans, or that she has never had to take out a school loan.  It isn't even that she doesn't know the difference between proficiency or growth.  All of things are tremendous concerns in their own right, but her thoughts about kids with special needs, actually made me nauseous.  Ms. Devos believes that how kids with disabilities or special needs are educated should be left up to the states.  On the surface that might not sound like a big deal.  Less federal government, right?  Traditionally, though, this hasn't been good.  As Senator Tim Kaine asked, "So some states could treat kids with disabilities well, and others could treat them badly.?"  Which is precisely the point.  There is a federal law in place to make sure that NOT one single student with special needs in the United States is denied their education.  No. Matter. What.  

Maybe it doesn't seem like such a sticking point to you.  I teach special needs kids.  They are in my classes because they have a right to be there.  They not only get to learn along with their peers, but as a community we learn and grow together.  We learn to have empathy for one another, and to recognize that not everyone learns at the same pace or in the same way.

And technically speaking, The Girl is differently abled, too.  Numbers are space aliens to her.  It has to do with how her brain is wired.  She is wicked smart, and super intuitive.  She can read a room pretty quickly and has a pretty impressive vocabulary.  On the surface she seems like any other kid, but if she were left alone in a "regular" math class, she would make almost zero progress.  Zero.  I know this to be true because until we got her the support she needed, she wasn't making progress.  She was in the 4th grade and had to use her fingers for 5 - 3; not because she wasn't smart - simply because she needed more support than could be provided in the standard math class.  She has made so much progress since then.  I am amazed at all the things that she can do now.  She even memorized my phone number - a huge challenge for her in the past.

My daughter is bright, beautiful and no less deserving a solid education.  I teach kids.  ALL kinds of kids.  Kids who are labled "special needs" and kids who aren't.  Every one of them deserves an education.

"But she's just leaving it up to the states - that's no big deal.  Surely, they will also want to make sure ALL kids have a great education, right?"

Historically, no.  There are some folks who think that students with special needs should go to special schools -- far away from the rest of the kids.  This opens the door to that happening.  I am not a fan of separate schools for different types of kids.  America used to do that.  Remember?  

I bet you are thinking, wait - she's not talking about segregation?  What's that got to do with the disabilities act?  Um, everything.  Back in the day, they used to give IQ tests to kids - to determine where they should be placed.  Guess which groups kept scoring lower and had to go to their "own" schools?  If you guessed minority children, and children of poverty, you are a winner, but they weren't.  The worst part is that without an overarching federal law, providing students with a right to their education, parents of students in states with unequal education would have no recourse, other than, as Senator Kaine said, "Move to another state."

This isn't being a sore loser.  This isn't being unhappy that my "guy" didn't win.  This is about the future of our nation. This about the kids in my classes, and the Girl living in my house.  Whatever complaints people have about our school system as whole, I have serious doubts about something who not only lacks experience, but also basic knowledge of the school system, could be our nation's best choice to run it.  I can think of about 15 teachers and adminstrators that I know personally who would be a stellar pic for the big gig.  

So, yeah, I've gone to the gym 14/17 days, and I'll be there tomorrow morning too.  It helps me sleep, and keeps me too tired to watch the confirmation hearings.  Some tv is just too bad to watch.

Do your research, and if so led, please contact your representative in government - let them know that you belive ALL students have value and that ALL voices should be heard in every classroom across America - not because it is the easiest thing in the world, but because it is our obligation as a Nation.  We must do right by every child because we said we belive that "all men are created equal."  It is time we made good on that promise.