Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Side Track-Diversity Discussion

I was going to continue my updates today, but besides getting up this morning with a headache and very little sleep,(see Updates, Updates Part 1), I came upon a post that not only did I feel the need to reply to, I felt the need to repeat it here.

Don't ask me why this tugged at me so hard. The subject matter is diversity and the school system. When I read this, I felt as if, unbeknownst to this mother (who I will not reveal her name, because I haven't asked her permission to do so) diversity extends so far beyond the areas she touched upon. Diversity takes into account the neuro-typical and non-typical children. It takes into account the chronically ill and the disabled. Diversity is not just a poor/rich, white/black/latino/native american issue. As the mother of two children, who do not fit the norm, I feel it is my duty (and my 2nd job) to educate people about diversity and the richness it can bring.

In another post, I read today, a fellow Disaboomer ( an Illinois governor as saying "If you are able-bodied and breathing, we want you working." Another blow to diversity when the disabled unemployments rates would raise your hair and underemployment rates hit 90% in some places.

If you ask me, what I really want, I guess I would say, don't be so afraid of diversity. It may not always mean property rates are going to drop and school performance scores will skew downward.

Here is the post as written with my response.

The new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he wants his kids to go to a diverse school. Author Eileen Kugler believes that a "good school" DOES NOT look like a scene from The Brady Bunch in her book, "Debunking the Middle-class Myth: Why diverse schools are good for all kids". According to Eileen, our diversity is our strength only if we go beyond celebrating diversity and we take the tough actions that champion diversity -- from supporting immigrants who live next door to having those real discussions with people from different races, ages, and paycheck levels. Check out her website for articles and commentaries she's written for The Wash Post, USA Today and more.

We were faced with this exact situation. Our assigned school happens to serve one of the largest public housing projects in the state. The children who attend the school from a diverse background, which is wonderful, but the school has to design curriculum for the needs of the majority. Our son was reading before Kindergarten. We struggled whether we should send him to the diverse school or the "white bread" school. In the end, we chose the latter, primarily because we were worried he would be frustrated and bored, as well as the fact that we're not ready to have our kids be subjects of our social experiment.

Anybody else want to weigh in?

Reply by JudiElise 25 seconds ago

I am happy that you chose a school that would create the challenging and engaging environment he needs, but I chafe at when you offer that your child is not ready to "be subjects of our social experiment" or when you equate diversity to living near a public housing project.

I think the statement you make about the curriculum is unwarranted, unless you have examined the curriculum and found it wanting. Have you seen the curriculum for your child's grade? Does it meet the state standards and yours? If you have, and it fell short, then, of course, I applaud your decision. But if it was made without due dilligence, on what did you use to base your decision? As your statements stand, I feel as if you are developing (or exposing) a mindset that borders upon prejudicial thinking.

I realize that when people talk about altering the landscape of our public school system, this can be disconcerting. And sometimes, when these changes are made, this can lead to a lowering of standards in order to meet "Leave No Child Behind" mandates, but this is not always the case. Having the opportunity to learn and, eventually, work in a diverse society is one of the conditions, we, Americans have to work through as the world becomes more and more of a global-interdependent society.

Right now, this is seen as an asset for people entering the workforce today. Colleges teach classes (a required course at some universities) on the subject of culture diversity, because it has become so important to the future of America staying competitive.

I hope your decision turns out well for you and your son. You have started him out ahead of the other children, and perhaps, he will be given the opportunity to join gifted classes as well. But diversity will never take away his abilities nor dull them. Only the lack of opportunity and challenge will.