Betsy DeVos – now famous for, well, grizzly attacks on public schools – has become Education Secretary. Barely. With no education background, she is now in charge of our public school system, and all the laws about education. Some of which she finds “confusing”.
Let me repeat – the woman in charge of upholding education laws doesn’t understand education laws.
And upon her confirmation, parents of kids in special ed collectively cursed, shook their heads, and rolled up their sleeves. See, we’re used to having to fight for our kids.
I’ve been watching the new administration before it was a new administration. Trump has been quoted saying he’d like to get rid of the Dept. of Education altogether. So wanting DeVos as Education Secretary isn’t that huge of a surprise. Nor is the almost instant news of abolishing the Dept of Education that headlined today after the confirmation.
But it’s more than education that’s caught my eye.
First, we have a nominee for Attorney General who also doesn’t support IDEA –
In May 2000, Sessions took to the senate floor to make a lengthy speech on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, arguing that federal protections for students with disabilities was a reason U.S. public schools were failing. – HuffPo
Meanwhile, we have a nominee for SCOTUS who sides with schools over students when it comes to IDEA –
In a second disability rights case, an impartial hearing officer, an administrative law judge, and a federal district court judge all agreed that a young autistic boy, Luke, needed placement in a residential school program due to his total lack of progress in “generalizing” skills — applying skills learned at school to other environments. Judge Gorsuch wrote the opinion reversing. He found that because Luke was making “some progress” toward his education goals in the public school — even though it was undisputed there was no progress outside of school –the school district had met its obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But Congress had made it clear that the IDEA should help students make progress toward independent living. Generally, not just in school. The narrow and outdated standard used by Judge Gorsuch is now under review in the U.S. Supreme Court. – (source:ACLU)
And then you add up things like the ACA and all it’s handy little bits like insurances can’t deny you if you have pre-existing conditions, attempts to slash Medicaid, etc…
…and you begin to fashion a hat out of tinfoil. Because it all starts feeling like a giant conspiracy against people with disabilities.
Seriously – if we can’t get educations or health care for people of all ages with disabilities, then what? We can’t move to Canada – they don’t take people with disabilities, despite how warm and fuzzy Justin Trudeau appears. Besides, aren’t we, as Americans, supposed to be better than that? Isn’t America the place where everyone gets a chance to succeed in life? Or is that now only limited to the able-bodied?
No, this isn’t just about Betsy DeVos and her lack of understanding about special education laws. This is more. This is about an administration who not only seems to not care about disability rights, they seem almost determined to make things harder for people with disabilities. What’s next? Repealing the Americans with Disabilities Act because it costs too much to put a wheelchair ramp in a public building and it’s “bad for business”?
Again, maybe I’m just fashioning myself a tinfoil hat. But these days, it seems anything goes. We now have a Education Secretary who thinks there should be guns at schools in case of grizzly attacks.
No one saw that coming, not even the bears.