“Is this who we are?” The title of this op-ed piece is very apt. It follows on an article in Buzzfeed, which describes a 10-year-old undocumented girl with a severe developmental disability. The girl, born in Mexico but brought to this country when she was three months old, was detained after she just had emergency surgery. So, I ask the same question: “Is this who we are?”
There are ways in which we can take action. The American Civil Liberties Union is leading a campaign to contact elected officials; the effort has been gaining publicity on Twitter and other social media channels via the #FreeRosa hashtag. We cannot remain silent. It’s not who we are.
This very important report seeks to inform the public of the issues behind learning disabilities, conditions that are as misunderstood as they are misdiagnosed.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities, a leading advocacy group, just came out with a report, The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. That figure, one in five, or 20 percent, refers to the number of students who have a learning disability, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia. This population is very much misunderstood; all too often, these children are (mis)labeled as lazy or unmotivated or just not as smart as their peers. More often than not, these labels are untrue. Not only are these students at risk of failing school, but also they all too often struggle finding or keeping employment and are disproportionately represented in the prison population.
Despite one in five students having some sort of learning disability, according to this report, only one in 16 receive proper special-education services with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and only one in 50 receive services under Section 504. This detailed report covers the following:
- The neuroscience, stigma, and federal laws concerning these students
- How to identify struggling students
- Supporting academic success
- The social, emotional, and behavioral challenges these students face and pose
- Issues regarding the transitioning to life after high school
- Recommended policies.
The report provides summaries for each state, with “key data points and comparisons to national averages in several areas such as inclusion in general education classrooms, disciplinary incidents and dropout rates for students with learning and attention issues.”
The bibliographic citation for this report is:
Horowitz, S. H., Rawe, J., & Whittaker, M. C. (2017). The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. New York: National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Photo by James Gordon, Los Angeles, California, USA: “Playful boy in the expansive courtyard of the Great Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, Syria” Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. This mosque, the fourth holiest place in Islam, is now in ruins.
What do we mean by “extreme vetting”? A Homeland Security
official explains that refugees have been been vetted thoroughly all along.
Teaching and Supporting the Children
“Schools should be safe havens that embrace all students and families, regardless of citizenship and national origin, and that includes unaccompanied and refugee children. The 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe ruled that undocumented children have a constitutional right to receive a free public K–12 education, which provides the means to becoming a “self-reliant and self-sufficient participant in society,” the court wrote, and instills the “fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system.” However, today’s increased enforcement measures by the Department of Homeland Security and campaign promises made by the incoming administration threaten that right for thousands of undocumented youth and the 4.1 million U.S.-born children who live in mixed-status households with at least one parent or family member who is undocumented.”
The report offers facts about undocumented students, immigration raids, what school communities can do, and taking action beyond the classroom.
A companion piece, “What Do I Say to Students about Immigration Orders?”
offers clear, honest tips for helping undocumented students and children of undocumented parents. This thoughtful essay offers ten additional steps of constructive action teachers and other adult role models can take.
Out Beyond the School
Forces of Good(ness) in the Twitterverse
Bana Alabed, thankfully safe, had a poignant question for the president, seeking his empathy. Bana is the brave little Syrian girl who has been using Twitter to alert the world of the plight of these children, now political pawns subject to the political whims of egomaniac adults.
The video can be found here
. Please follow her! Bana’s mother, Fatemah, has also set up a Twitter account
. Mother and daughter preach love, peace, and understanding. These are the message we need so much more of.
After the Super Bowl
Here’s the full, uncut version of the famous advertisement by 84 Lumber. It’s beautiful!
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) hosted its 26th Beat the Odds Celebration at the Newseum in Washington, DC. CDF honored Children’s Defense Fund Alumna Hillary Rodham Clinton for her dedication and contributions to child advocacy and the Children’s Defense Fund throughout her remarkable career.
“The Children’s Defense Fund is honored to celebrate and recognize a life-long champion of children who never gives up and never stops working to change the odds for children. Never has there been a more urgent time for all of us to help bind our wounds and heal our divisions and work for a nation and world where all children are respected and protected and no child is left behind. We thank Hillary who has been a tireless voice for children from the Children’s Defense Fund’s beginning as a young staff attorney, then board member and board chair,” said Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Secretary Clinton spoke passionately about children and the scourge of childhood poverty.
– See more at: http://www.childrensdefense.org/newsroom/cdf-in-the-news/press-releases/2016/CDFCelebratesHillaryRodhamClinton.html#sthash.mtxugJdB.dpuf
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has written an alarming piece of how Trump’s rhetoric is tearing our social fabric and affecting children in schools. Fortunately, many students – of all backgrounds – have taken the moral courage of standing up to this bigotry, which is more than one could say about some of our elected officials in the GOP.
This piece is an addendum to the earlier report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which appeared on this blog. As Korczak pointed out, “Children are not the people of tomorrow, but are people of today.”
…and perhaps of undocumented children as well. I taught children like these as a bilingual teacher several years ago. And children like these – children with dreams as big as their hearts – are among the closest friends of my daughters. Most come from areas of extreme poverty; many come from areas that, because of violence, are among the most dangerous places in the world.
By Gillette, Bill, 1932-, Photographer (NARA record: 8464444) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This fine editorial, “Children of Fear,”
offers much insight and valuable advice.
Nicholas Kristof wrote a superb editorial in the New York Times on the choices we could and should make on behalf of our children, ages 0 to 3, or the first 1,000 days. His philosopy: Let’s invest in children, “who are too small to fail.”
He cites several studies, both standalone and collections of important essays. Of the latter, of note is a brand-new book, The Leading Edge of Childhood Education.
This 2016 book is an excellent companion to the excellent 2014 book, also by Harvard Graduate School of Education, Improving the Odds for America’s Children, of which a prominent theme is that we have sufficient money to spend on children; it is a matter of setting priorities and making decisions that will benefit America’s children.
As this blog asked in the previous entry: Are the candidates for president addressing issues that concern our children and are the media paying any attention? It’s all about setting priorities and making choices.