“Those” Kids

Saturday I went to the Texas A&M Arkansas football game in Dallas. Most of my readers know I am a huge Arkansas Razorback fan. The game was very exciting, but after dominating most of the game, we lost. I was sad.

I went to the game with a friend. We stopped by an event and ate. Two people sat at our table and they were educators. We began to chat and one of the ladies wanted to know what I did. I know my girlfriend who was with me was thinking, “Why did you have to ask.” I told her my job title, and she began asking questions.  She said to her friend, “I don’t think we have any Down’s kids at our school.” The friend said she wasn’t sure if there was anyone with “Down’s right now but those kids are in life skills. We do mainstreaming though.”  I remarked that Rachel is in general education and that I am staunch advocate of inclusion. This opened a big box of discussion and questions. In the course of the conversing I heard the terms “those kids” and “Down’s kids” so much that I could feel my blood pressure rising. I think I deserve an award or something for not giving in to my overwhelming desire to correct the terminology. I tried to model appropriate language, but it just went right over the heads.  When she told me that it was probably better for “those” kids to learn how to cook than to do Algebra, I pointed out that she might want to look up the research on inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classes and high expectations. She assured me that many of “those” kids had worked with her in her role in the school.

It really wasn’t the setting for such a discussion. It was loud and there were lots of distractions. I made the decision to just let it go. No saving the world on Saturday. However, I did manage to share with her that I felt like parents were often told that life skills and self-contained classrooms were best for their child when the research doesn’t support that. I told her that I felt like often times parents are afraid and so they make that choice out of fear. She told me she could tell I was passionate about what I did and that was good.  Finally, she  told me that most parents probably don’t really know what is available or what “those” kids need.

Losing a football game wasn’t the saddest part of my day Saturday.

Disclaimer: In all fairness this is a short synopsis of a long conversation but I do believe I accurately and honestly captured the plot and spirit of the conversation. 

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  1. Educators tend to think they know best, even if not teaching in Special Education. SpEd Teachers in TX are suppose to work with the general educators and help educate them as to how to work with the SpEd kids. Down Syndrome students are considered SpEd kids and the Arlington district is just now moving toward inclusion and my kiddo is already in high school.
    Just had to let you know what I know, especially since I live in Arlington, TX and am trying to get a teaching position and still parent my daughter with Down Syndrome.
    Have you seen the movie “Where Hope Grows”?

  2. Thanks for reading! Yes, we have seen Where Hope Grows and enjoyed it. We also had the opportunity to meet David DeSanctis. I don’t know what district these folks were from.

  3. Thanks for the post Sassysoutherngal. It is a shame that educators struggle with this concept of inclusion and do not stay up to date on research – even the research that has been in place for over two decades regarding the success seen in the general ed setting instead of the special education setting. What progress we would see if only educators and districts would embrace the research.

  4. So proud of you for your passion, advocacy, and hard work. Even more proud of your restraint in a difficult situation. I pray that your words will reach into their hearts in a quieter moment, and bring about changes in their attitudes and actions. ?

  5. What would the world do without real educators, and you’re one of the best that I know. Unfortunately, ignorance abounds and there are “miles to go before we sleep”, as Frost said. Try not to let it make you sad. What a wonderful thing knowledge is and the only way for some folks to acquire it is to hear things over and over. Who knows, maybe you managed to penetrate that wall of ignorance just a tiny bit and the lady in question went home and googled inclusion to check out your story and found out that you were right and she might have read more and she might implement changes based on your conversation. Don’t feel sad, don’t give up, just keep preaching, there are a lot of folks out there who haven’t heard the word. We can’t allow them to continue in ignorance.

  6. Thanks everyone for reading and for your kind and supportive comments. I do believe there was a purpose in the conversation. I do believe there were seeds planted. I do believe they probably thought on that poor mom, Bless her heart, she is in denial. My sadness is in that it was a very real reminder(as thought I needed one)and really in my opinion, message from God, of how far we still have to go. That’s what made me sad. That today 40 years after IDEA educators would refer to kids with intellectual disabilities as “those kids” with absolutely no idea of how offensive it is. Before you all tell me, yes I know it could be worse. Not the point. Pink houses under construction.

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