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Friday, May 01, 2015

They Wash The Football Team's Uniforms

So we observed the self-contained classroom at the middle school that Kayla is zoned for.

We figured out pretty quickly that this was most likely the placement the school was going to recommend for Kayla in 6th grade.

We learned that the students spend the majority of their day in the classroom because they're getting all of their academic instruction in the 5 core academic subjects in this classroom. (Kayla's current placement is being in the general education setting 79-40% of her day [I don't have on-hand her actual percentage of time] and I dislike that range because it's such a broad range between being almost at 80% included to 40% included. The recommended middle school placement would have her in general education settings less than 40% of her day.)

We learned it's possible for a student to 'move up, or out' to another classroom setting based on how well they are preforming academically.

We learned that the students aren't assigned lockers like the rest of the school population.

We also learned a few other things during our observation tour.

This classroom is in what used to be the Home Ec room. The school doesn't offer Home Ec anymore so the self-contained classroom moved in to this room. I don't know when Home Ec went away and I don't know what classroom they were using before and I don't know know why they moved in to the old Home Ec room.

What I do know is because it was a Home Ec room it still has refrigerators and stoves and sinks.

We learned that sometimes, maybe as part of a Social Studies or Math lesson, the students will learn to cook.

I wasn't completely thrilled at the idea, but not totally against it either. After all, I remember having Home Ec in middle school. I remember learning to thread a needle and complete sewing projects (a stuffed pink pig with a button for the eye!). I remember some cooking lessons, too.

The difference is that was something the whole school took as a class. The difference is the rest of the student body no longer has Home Ec as a class. If it was something the rest of the middle school students were learning to do I would be somewhat ok with it.

But then there was something else.

At some point a washer and dryer was acquired for this classroom.

And as part of that whole "life skills", "being independent", "real life experience" (I'm not really sure what the whole justification is) ...

We learned that "...sometimes they wash the football team's uniforms. They learn how to measure and do laundry, and the football team gets clean uniforms. It's a win-win!"

This was reiterated to us during the IEP meeting in a description of the things they are doing in the classroom and that the students are learning to use the washer and dryer and "they wash the football team's uniforms and it's ... great!"

Let that sink in for a moment.

Sometimes they wash the football team's uniforms.

Why is this even a thing? Why is this ok? Why is this acceptable? How is this appropriate?

I don't know how often they wash the uniforms. This does not mean this is the only thing they are learning in the classroom. This doesn't mean they aren't doing academics either.

I felt shocked, saddened, disappointed, disbelief, speechless, frustrated, anger. I felt like having these students wash the uniforms is demeaning; as if they are less-than.

I've heard other parents tell stories of high school students in special education classrooms collecting trash or cleaning up the cafeteria after lunch and I couldn't believe that was allowed.

Then I found out something like this is happening right at the school where my daughter is supposed to go, at the middle school level ... that they are washing the football team's uniforms.

Students receiving special education services should not be doing ... chores ... that the rest of the student body does not have to partake in. Why are they singled out? It continues to create a divide; an "us" vs "them" mentality at the school.

What do those football players think of those students with disabilities who are washing their uniforms? How does that create an even peer relationship?

Why is doing laundry even so important at the middle school level? And if they do feel this is an important skill to have at this grade level then it is also an important skill for the rest of the students to have.

Why not give the players on the football team those same important, real-life, independent, life-skills experiences like doing laundry? Why not teach the football players to wash their own uniforms? They are, after all, the ones who are dirtying up those uniforms.

The thing is this: I am not sending my child to middle school to learn to do laundry. Especially not the laundry of the football team. It doesn't matter if it happens once a week, once a month, once a quarter, or once a year. One time is one time too many. Even one time is not acceptable.

We will teach our daughter to do laundry at home ... we send her to school for the same reason we send our son (and the same reason any parent sends their child) to school - to get an education.

Until students without disabilities are learning to do laundry at school, I don't find it appropriate for my child to learn to do laundry at school.

Especially not in middle school.


Unknown said...

I can understand why you're upset. I would be too! I don't send my kid to school to clean up after others. He learns to clean up after himself right here at home. He doesn't need to do it for others who likely need to learn that skill themselves. I say fight that. Fight it hard. Know that you are right and that there are others who stand behind you.

Meg said...

Wow. Between your previous post and this one, you must be so frustrated and angry. Are you set on staying where you are or thinking of moving? Certainly, the default should be in-class support at least for a few classes vs isolated classroom. And certainly no laundry lessons.

Are you going to fit the IEP? Hugs.

Unknown said...

This is downright infuriating. I'm sure this would be recognized as discrimination if the band students or international students had to wash the football team's uniforms. There is no logic as to why this it is fair for students with intellectual disabilities to do menial labor in school. What kind of apartheid do they want to start? This is no way to treat other human beings.

Ellen Seidman said...

Michelle, a reader shared this with me and my blood pressure soared as I read this. This is outrageous and unacceptable. I hope you are able to either shift mindsets or find a better place for Kayla. Really, a better place for any child. How backward-thinking are they?!

CMSavage6 said...

I can't even. My blood is boiling and I can't even. I am flabbergasted that this still happens! Since you're last post I've started looking at what the upper elementary schools and middle school programs look like now. As I stated, I didn't have any problems getting what I wanted for my daughter on and pre-k level. So I'm looking to make sure that's true at the next stage.

Anonymous said...

I have never hoed this row- but--are you going to pull her out or get an advocate?

If the laundry thing was their own personal -potentially very ripe smelling gym clothes- I might maybe could buy in-maybe.

If you fight 'the system' then you'd have to be there everyday to deal with the potentially passive aggressive backlash. Because ===well-people kinda suck.

AZ Chapman said...

yeah this is not ok. There used to be a group of people that did the dirty work for no pay in America. They were slaves. I am sorry you have to deal with this . Hang in there.


Cindy said...

I'm a little nervous to comment on this post because... I feel the complete opposite. Maybe it's the generation gap (my daughter is 30) but I imagined a group a big, hunky cute football players coming into Beth's classroom to say thank you and give hugs and High-5s to all the students. Beth would have been beside herself! Does this encourage friendships outside the classroom? Would this show the rest of the students that this classroom isn't to be messed with? And what a step up Beth would have had, to learn to do laundry at home and at school. They would be reinforcing what I was teaching at home. Like I said though, maybe things are different in schools today then they were back in the 80's. I sincerely hope you get your desired placement for Kayla.

Barbara Walsh said...

i agree w/ Cindy. Learning to wash clothes is a life skill.Doesn't matter whose clothes - if you feel strongly about it arrange for Kayla to wash her own personal laundry. I don't see what the fuss is about. I was a teacher of special ed before one too many work related acccidents, not a parent. Maybe that is why I see it differently. Certainly they will not be doing laundry 8 hours five days a week.
in the 6thh grade useful skills should be learned.

J said...

Feeling for you Michelle. Doing chores for the other students- Oh yeah win-win what a joke .Don't these people in charge of this ciriculum know about tween and teenagers and how cruel they can be when it comes to pecking order THIS IS SCHOOL AUTHORITY CREATED PECKING ORDER - I can hear it in now in the mean students heads "the people in that class do the chores" ARRGHH I'm so angry - I guess having a Physical Disability and getting teased etc at school has left me with a sensitivity to injustice like this -ARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Anonymous said...

Have you spoken with the teachers at your daughters current school?

I teach special ed, and when students move to middle school, the previous year's teacher is a huge factor in placement for the following school year. What did the current teachers recommend?

If the current teachers were not a factor, would they be willing to help advocate for a change in placement for next year?

krlr said...

Oh my effing….
No. Just no.
I don't know what your other options are but we'll be here for you.

Megan and Charles said...

Oh Michelle. This is horrible. I feel like writing a letter to the principal. Please let me know if I can help. You have an army behind you.

Elsha said...

Catching up on the last couple posts and I am SO SORRY you have to deal with this! It's so clearly not inclusive. I've been so happy with Daniel's school (and the district in general) so far (though I know he's just starting out.) I wish everyone could have the great experience we've been having. Clearly that is not the case. I hope you get a better situation figured out!

Political Jules said...

And what if your child has a poor immune system? MRSA runs rampant in gym locker rooms. Psuedomonas is prevalent in the soil, and in public water supplies. There are a host of other bacteria and illnesses that are present in public school laundry that should not be given to a child with a poor immune system. Shame on the school. Not only are they not teaching the child, they have no regard for their health either.

ppods said...

I agree 100% with your blog post here. My daughter is 8, she has Down syndrome and she was originally in a life skills class for her first year of kindergarten. They went on a million field trips to pizza hut, the grocery store etc...and when we had our IEP meeting before the year started, they bragged to us about how they go on all these field trips, leave school to go take gymnastics, heck they even get invited to the music program that the rest of the kids preform in. Okay--WHY??? Yes, gynmastics is great, but we will take her after school, like everyone else. All those field trips to help her learn how to 'eat in a restaurant"?? Sure, super fun for her, but guess what?? We eat in restaurants all the time and WE can teach her how to behave properly there. I would rather that she stay at school and learn to cut and color and learn her numbers like every other kindergartner! She's now in a typical class with an aide and she goes to learning support for reading and math, NOT laundry and doing dishes. Some of these schools need to get a clue and catch up to the rest of the world.In the school where she was in the life skills class, the classroom was completely self contained--even to the point that on field day each class got their own color tshirt and her class had their own color. It was ridiculous--we asked many times to have her included and they would try once to push her into a classroom full of 25 kids she did not know and then tell us that she was not ready and that she refused to go in to the room. Geez, I wonder why?? What kid would be comfortable walking into a room full of kids they did not know?! I absolutely hated it and I think they do a HUGE disservice to our children this way. Unfortunately, there were many kids in that class whose parents did not complain. Maybe they don't know enough to ask? At the end of that year, they told us they recommended she stay in life skills and we said NO WAY. She is doing GREAT in a regular classroom with learning support for reading and math. We are very happy, but we will have this same fight when we get to the next level and she has to move up to the intermediate school. But fight we will. There is no reason our kids should be taught household skills like that--they are capable of much more!

Anna said...

Barbara Walsh, this is postmodern bantu education for students with intellectual disabilities, not the school's life skills program. Discrimination and being treated as "less than"are NOT LIFE SKILLS. This will make their dignity and quality of life decline rapidly. I'm sorry for using all caps, but the fact that your comment implies that you think menial labor is beneficial for these students made my blood boil.

Anonymous said...

I think the mom above and the SPED teacher nailed the crux of the real problem. We are in the midst of a cultural change and many of the older generation are stuck sitting on the pedestal we have placed them on. We have a culture stuck in the we have come so far mentality and think this is the pinnacle of expectation. Experience is given way too much credence in a world that is changing to one of true diversity and true inclusion. I see older moms say things like my son is 30 and he is touching himself in- appropriately and a new mom of a young boy say I am listening because I know I will have this to deal with as well. Or I see programs like a down syndrome tennis instruction program that has tennis instruction for 8 year olds sharing the court with 30 year olds. Our own community supports this as a wonderful non profit idea. Would you take your typical 8 year old to a program that puts 30 year old men with 8 year old boys and girls? The example above where the mom says her daughter would be thrilled to have a peer football player from her school hug her or give her a high five for doing his laundry is sad on so many levels but people won't tell her this, we just accept this as the culture we have joined. When we do suggest this is sad and wrong we get moms and educators who will quickly remind us of their experience and our culture immediately bows down to them put of respect. It is a dilemma.
We have to stop and realize that programs and ideas that seems well intentioned that are created from older experienced parents or educators are not always progressive. They don't push the bar up, and I am not speaking of the bar your child needs to reach but the bar we as parents and as a community need to continue to push in our own psyche of what all people are capable of together in our culture.

Unknown said...

My mouth dropped open reading this post. I know Bridget is a few years from middle school (heck we are just having the kindergarten battle now) but I am outraged on your behalf. That they would demean our children in this manner and think they are doing a good thing? YIKES!!! A house is for sale in my neighborhood time to move closer my friend.

Type (little) a aka Michele said...

So demeaning! They should be ashamed of themselves!

Curkgang said...

I know I am going to be in the minority here. . . but, please read before rushing to judgement. 1. I am the mom of six, five of whom are medically and/or developmentally challenged. I am in NY. My children, with the exception of one had IEPs and four of my six were or are in a 12:1:4 (the class for the most disabled). 2. My children are receiving an education, one that most kids should be getting as well, but are not. They are learning skills that will help them in life beyond school rather than sitting in classes that mean nothing to them. 3. I'm all for inclusion until it's done to the point of exclusion. My children read at at less then a third grade level. My son, in eleventh grade has no business in a 20th century literature class, other than to "teach" non-disabled students how to interact with my disabled son. He's not a tool to make someone else more tolerant. He's there to learn, he's there to use his cognitive skills to increase his opportunities post high-school and an 11th grade academic class of any sort, does not do that for him. He LOVES having a job, and he wants to do it well. He learns to read instructions, follow directions, compute math, and integrate social skills all while doing something he's proud of. 3. There are limits to my flexibility. He can not do "recyclables" unless he's with a host of typical students who are doing a collection for a good cause. He enjoyed going to rooms and collecting items with peers when it was supporting his special olympic t-shirts. It was meaningful. My daughter enjoys her cooking class more than anything else. She despised her gen. ed. classes. You know why, because she KNOWS she is not the same. The idea we can "make" all equal is not fair to those who like themselves and being with and around other like themselves. She is very active, enjoys chatting on the phone with gen. ed. students, but hates that they see her struggle with the very basics (she is at kindergarten level). I am thrilled she has the life-skills class. She needs to function in life as a participant and social being. She needs to be able to survive doing things we take for granted. So I am fine with her life-skills. 4. My youngest is non-verbal and extremely medically complicated. He participates in his 2nd grade class as a passive observer because he is profoundly self-directed. He has learned to do the pledge, he stands and participates with the class for morning routine. He screams and disrupts the class as soon as the music ends. He does not have business in the class until he has the ability to do so without drawing negative attention to himself. That's inclusion to the point of exclusion.
I understand your frustrations, but every child is unique as are their needs. Inclusion is not appropriate for all. My eldest son does NOT want to hang out with typical peers. He doesn't understand them, he's often confused by their conversations and misreads their humor. He thoroughly enjoys he special needs class and all of the wonderful social events for special needs populations. He tells jokes, he's social and happy. I hang out with people like me, who like what I like, that's what we do and it's 100% normal. To force inclusion denies the normalcy of wanting to be with like minded friends. At least this is how I have and will approach the education and social development of my family.
Take care and God Bless,

Unknown said...

No, it's not all right, even if the child likes it, wants it. At a certain point in school, if ever, a student might be placed into a vocational education program, and at that point the training available to match the skills often place children with disabilities at menial jobs. But that would be in a vocational ed setting at high school level, not middle school.

Regardless of where the cognitive level is with a student, until they are in voc ed, the idea is to get as much education, academics exposure at the highest possible level the student can take. The curriculums should be tailored to the point where these children can handle the material. For some it might just be exposure to the material, pictures, reading to the child, just talking to the child about the materials and presuming some intake of knowledge. In Kayla's case she is able to work with academic material still, and should be getting more, extra, rather than less at this point in time. This school does need a reality check. This isn't the way it should be done. Absolutely appalling.

As for what the kids love....well, my kids would have rather done the wash and gone on field trips than have to focus on math problems and read what to them, were boring things. It's not all about what they love doing when it comes to school. IT's giving each and every child the most academic education possible. It's not career training at that point.

As for inclusion, that is a whole other thing than being given janitorial duties instead of an education that can best be brought to the level of understanding. There are some students that cannot handle inclusion. That is a part of their disability and it has to be accommodated, but that doesn't mean they do chores instead of learning to do math or about math or just hear about math or be surrounded with math stimuli if that is all that they can handle at their level.

Michelle, this school needs a kick in their back sides. This is not right.

Amy JD Hernandez said...

Oh wow. Yeah...no. Not cool at all. My middle son is a freshman and we just fought this battle. My kid does not need weekly trips during school to learn how to shop for groceries, thankyouverymuch. No.

As a result of our commitment to his full inclusion, next year, four kids with Ds will be at his school, their neighborhood school. My son is the first inclusion student at this school and guess what? Everyone involved is realizing that it isn't that big of a deal. It's fine. It's not perfect, but it's fine and he is happy.

ch said...

I think this topic is a really hard one for any parent. I have two children with Down syndrome. One has the ability and potential to benefit from an exclusively academic curriculum and it's what I expect her educational program to be based around.

I also have a son with Down syndrome who will benefit greatly from learning functional skills. He's currently in a self-contained setting and each of his goals is determined by functional curriculum.

I think the hurt here isn't that functional curriculum is available to learners with Down syndrome. There are cases where it is absolutely appropriate and beneficial. The hurt comes when any parent feels they aren't being able to provide their child with an educational plan that is unique and individual because someone else has decided there's a "one program fits all" policy for different learners.

I hope you're able to find a way to achieve that for your sweet girl. I know I sleep better at night believing I've been given the chance to provide what's appropriate for each of my children...however individualized that program is.

Cayte said...

Horrific and inappropriate. Horrific and beyond inappropriate.

I sincerely hope you can get Kayla zoned to a different, BETTER middle school. One that will at least TRY to teach her academic things!

shan said...

I love your reply.

shan said...

I love your reply.

My name is Sarah said...

I would love to chat with the anonymous commenter from 11:10 today. If you should happen to read this will you please send me a message at jhillely@yahoo.com. Thank you.

My name is Sarah said...

I would love to chat with the anonymous commenter from 11:10 today. If you should happen to read this will you please send me a message at jhillely@yahoo.com. Thank you.

Jazzbrat said...

Excellent! I've shared this post on my blog's fb wall, I wrote a ridiculously long intro to your piece referencing my son's experiences. I invite you to read it, and let me know if it's OK to cite your post in my own blog, or if you'd like to collaborate, my blog is daysofwhineandrose.blogspot.ca and the Facebook post sharing your article is https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=371241359725790&id=174062482777013&ref=bookmark

Jazzbrat said...

Excellent! I've shared this post on my blog's fb wall, I wrote a ridiculously long intro to your piece referencing my son's experiences. I invite you to read it, and let me know if it's OK to cite your post in my own blog, or if you'd like to collaborate, my blog is daysofwhineandrose.blogspot.ca and the Facebook post sharing your article is https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=371241359725790&id=174062482777013&ref=bookmark

Alison Piepmeier said...

I haven't read the other comments, so I may be saying what's already been said, but you can hear it again:

You are a motherf**cking powerful, knowledgeable. Your daughter should be included, as you know. And it's taken you a million steps and they're still resisting you.

I hate that the best schools here are private, that THEY are the ones who get it. They cost money, but I've decided it's worth it. Your experience is part of why I'm doing this.

F**k, yeah!

blanchard family said...

I agree! My son loves his classroom! I have expectations for my son but I am also realistic in his capabilities... He would not be happy having to sit in a classroom... He would be bored because he wouldn't understand it and angry! How do I know... Because he demonstrates that behavior. I think some parents are putting their own feelings on to their child's. The parent would be mad or sad or whatever if this happened to them... They are projecting their thoughts on their kids.... Let them be who they are.

blanchard family said...

These kids need down time... If they don't get it they can become violent or depressed because they have trouble expressing their frustration. They are learning when they do laundry... They are learning sorting... Work ethics... Measurement.., how to operate a machine.... And coordination... Many kids do not have the coordination or finger skills to use scissors or pencils. So in addition to learning these things they are learning them in a useful way. In what way would you have a kid who needs that downtime learn measurement, sorting... Etc?

blanchard family said...

I think some of these parents that think that it is horrible need to back off a little... It is appropriate for some students.., not all. And for the kids who it is appropriatel for it is not horrible!

Unknown said...

Parents of 30 year olds. Stop. Please just stop. We don't expect you to justify your child's placement--that was all there was and LRE wasn't introduced until your child as 5 years old. We don't judge you--don't judge us.
The sad thing about starting laundry, Digging through trash for recyclables and eating at unhealthy fast food restaurants is repeated in high school and again in transition programs. Really--do they think our kids are such slow learners that they need 11 years of repeated curriculum??? It's our jobs as parents to teach all our kids with and without disabilities the life skills. And as for the hug from the football player? It should be on the sidelines and Kayla is one of the cheerleaders cheering them to victory. Not his wash maid.

blanchard family said...

My son does laundry at school and I am glad. He has also had instruction on telephone etiquette at my request. We have tried to teach that at home but he needs extra reinforcement. He would answer the phone by saying " quit calling me. " and hang up. He did not know who was calling or for what purpose. He did this when he was 15 years old and I asked the school to help us with this issue. Is that horrible??? He is learning a life skill that maybe we could have started on when he was 11 percent r twelve... Middle school age. Learning how to operate machinery and cook... We love that!!! He would heat up chicken in the microwave and eat it half raw... Blood coming out of it. Yes, I watched my child... But he still managed to get chicken and nuke it for a snack... And I would find him eating it raw.... So it is not horrible. Sometimes it is necessary.

Dena said...

I wouldn't be ok if they MADE my child do laundry no matter what - that's my chore/decision but add that her class is the only one doing it and it's gross football uniforms I'd be beyond pissed - I don't give a sh*t about high fives from the team....
you're in dd2 aren't you? Start looking at other schools in the district...I probably know a few people if you need some help ♡♡

Anonymous said...

I am a SPED teacher in an all-inclusion middle school classroom working on life skills. I'm sad to hear some of the responses, because I can promise you that most teachers like me are giving their heart and souls for your exceptional kiddos. Instead of flaming the teacher, school, etc., try to see the positive and what the kids are getting out of the program. My students mainstream into an elective class and PE, but are with me for the rest of the day? Is that wrong? Every child is different, but for the most part, I do what I believe is best for EACH individual. We have community based instruction once per month. We go shop, have tours, go to breakfast, go bowling and more. There are indeed skills they need to learn, and hands-on within a community environment is wonderful for them. Kids behave differently when the parents aren't around...and many times we see things that maybe parents may not. I can't tell you how many times I'm told by parents about picky eaters, yet will eat the picky foods with school. And yes, my students do laundry....once per week. One of the classroom jobs is washing the class PE clothes. This job takes 5 minutes, and is actually completed during the teachers PLC time so it doesn't take away from academic instruction. And, it is one of a list of classroom jobs that the students rotate weekly and earn classroom money for completing their job. And I have a student store where they spend their money, count change, etc. (with items I purchase with my own money...) Instead of looking at it as menial, know that we are teaching reading skills, measurement, and how to safely operate appliances.

As far as inclusion, I have a question. I teach math and Language Arts (reading, writing, spelling, and grammar) every day. I teach about Current Events in a reading program as well. I teach Time and Money. I teach students to learn/write/type their name, address and phone number..and if they are one of the few that knows this information, they are taught how to fill out job applications. I teach about street signs, measurements, reading menus, shopping, budgets (including checking accounts), and how to dial 911. I look at everything I teach in a day and see how vital this will be for my students in the future. Along with the academic, there's a social piece and behavior piece that is incorporated. So...for those in full support of full-time inclusion. Would you as a parent rather them learn about Ancient Greece, Ancient China, Silk Road, etc. (social studies), and velocity, force, elements, etc. (science)? With the implementation of common core, with more critical thinking skills (which our ID kiddos struggle with)?

Is it right that they are washing the football team's laundry? I don't know..probably not...but I do think the teacher had the right intentions to try to turn this into an educational experience. I would hope that they aren't spending 6 hours per day doing this. It's just one small portion of everything that is touched on during a school day.

Unknown said...

This week is teacher appreciation week so thank you to the aboveSPED teacher for all you do.i agree with everything you said. My 15 year old son has Down syndrome and Autism. He is non-verbal and I fought for years to get him out of mainstream classrooms. At one point they were teaching him photosynthesis and he couldn't even communicate with PECS putting 2 pictures together to request. He is in a special school now and they learn about life skills, community, current events and even potty training (which has been a blessing). He's still not fully potty trained, but we've made tremendous progress and for he first time in 15 years, I bought him his first pack of underwear. Every child is unique and different, so what may not work for your daughter, works for another child. These teachers are trying their best to educate our children and have chosen to educate our special children. I appreciate all they do and try to do to better theses children's lives.

vicsped said...

I don't even know what to say to this. Except that I totally would feel the same way you do. I'm not against learning to do laundry, but washers in the classroom seems weird and doing the team's laundry seems very inappropriate.

I hope you get the placement you want. In other news, I wonder if somebody could suggest a more reciprocal agreement between the football team and this class. Maybe talk to the coach or the players or families? The team comes in to read with the kids, or players rotate coming once a week during recess to teach the kids about football. The team does its own laundry before or after practice and the kids can wash things from their own classroom to work on laundry skills -- make it another classroom job that rotates between kids, just like sweeping the floors or whatever. I know all my typical kids have classroom jobs. Hugs. I feel a little sick.

Anonymous said...

Just came across this post by chance. My 12 year old (who has DS) is also starting middle school next year so I really understand all the conflicting feelings and worries about the "widening gap" between our kids and their "normal" peers. However, we live in a country where full inclusion is forced on practically 90% of disabled kids, no matter how severely they are affected, and it really is not ideal. So far, we've thankfully been very lucky with classmates, teachers and other staff in terms of acceptance and social inclusion. A little less so for teachers' professional skills to provide the best possible academic education for my daughter unfortunately. Also, as the social side of things continues to become more and more complex with time, and the fact that in our country it would be illegal to have more than one student with significant special needs in each class, I am really finding it hard to watch her struggle with maintaining meaningful peer-to-peer friendships (opposed to those based on "mothering"). I think you are extremely lucky to have different options, even if achieving what you feel is the best for your daughter means putting up a fight. I would also like to mention that the tone with which some have spoken about doing the laundry is really belittling and demeaning towards people who actually do this work (both professionally and well, duh, MOMS). By doing so, you're actually enforcing professional/intellectual racism IMHO. You do not need to be a doctor or a lawyer to be important and valuable. What I guess I'm trying to say is that I don't feel like it is in any way demeaning the spec ed students to be laundering the football team's gear, as long as it's not every day and as long as the school is actually highlighting the importance of this task.

Elise (Kids Included Together) said...


I just came across this post, and I've got to share my support for you, despite some of the comments others have posted. As a middle school special education teacher, this would NEVER fly in my classroom. I think the root problem here is the idea that students in a self-contained classroom are never going to be able to benefit from education in reading, writing, and math. And that is just NOT true. In my self-contained class, during math activities with money, my students learned basic skills of budgeting. THAT is a life skill that also involves academic content. Of course we want our students to learn how to be independent and OF COURSE we want them to build vocational and self-care skills. But not all students in special education are going to be doing custodial work. However, there are self-care and vocational activities that can also be tied into academic skills. It is not a win-win to be communicating to students with disabilities, their families, and their peers that these students are not capable of accomplishing academic goals. They absolutely are. You have every right to be outraged. In fact, I am outraged with you! I think you should express this to the school. Hopefully, some insight will help them change their ways.

Always with you in solidarity,
Elise, Kids Included Together

Lionel Braithwaite said...

This is the kind of thing that results in students with disabilities being regarded as less than human, and probably also results in incidents like this one (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Ridge_rape). As I just said at another blog, where the heck are the people (employed by the board of education, or at an outsourced company) that are supposed to be doing this? We're supposed to be having custodial staff for cleaning up a school, and we have the kids (in particular disabled ones) doing this? Parents need to be getting pissy and angry with education boards and politicians and having them fund education a lot more than it's being funded now.

Also, the boys on the team in question need to be told to wash their own uniforms.