Preface 

 

           This book is authentic. Everything in it is true. Parts of it are heartwarming and inspirational. Much of it, however, is disturbing; even shocking. While reading it, you may wonder, “How could all of these horrible things go on in a public school?” Believe me, it did. I know, because I was there and able to document everything.

 

          I learned to type in the ninth grade and was the fastest typist in my class. In 1986, I tossed my typewriter and bought a computer. And believe me, as a teacher, those typing and computer skills came in handy. Instead of relying on memory, I was able to record everything as it happened with speed and accuracy. I could also keep accurate records of exact times and dates. To the dismay of certain teachers, aides, and administrators, by the end of my teaching career, I had accumulated over 1,000 pages of notes telling it like it really was.

 

          The original intent was not to write a book about my experiences as a teacher. The first thing I did after retiring from teaching was write a novel. That project took nearly four years. The only reason I maintained copious notes on everything that happened was because it was my job. The cumulative file of the typical Regular Education child at the end of five years consists of a folder containing a picture card, health records, and a few other miscellaneous papers. The cumulative file of the typical Special Education child at the end of five years is usually about ten inches thick. That's because Special Education is a federal program in which students must be serviced under a comprehensive set of laws. That is why you're supposed to have a Special Ed. credential when you teach Special Education. However, because of emergency credentials and extensions, not everybody does.

 

          Teaching is like any other profession. There are good teachers, and there are bad teachers. Some people become teachers because it's their calling, and they couldn't imagine doing any other kind of work. Others become teachers because it's a great way to make a good living doing a part-time job. In California, teachers work roughly 180 days a year for an average salary of $85,000 a year, plus full medical and dental benefits, and a generous pension plan. In addition to all of that, they get tenure after only three years. If you're a Special Ed. teacher with a master’s degree, you're probably making closer to $100,000 a year. And in case you think California is an extreme case, the nationwide average is still close to $60,000 per year. Not bad, huh?

The cost of educating a special-needs child varies not only from state to state, but also according to the number of services involved. Thus, obviously, the cost of educating severely handicapped children is much more substantial, because so many of them require specialized one-on-one care. I'm not certain of the total cost of Special Education—there are so many variables—but I'm quite certain that it's way up in the billions. Most of that money is spent on personnel.

 

          In most cases, a child begins school in kindergarten in the General or Regular Education program—the terms are synonymous and are thus interchangeable. Children who have exceptional difficulties in learning basic skills such as reading and verbal expression begin the SST process. SST stands for Student Success Team and consists of the child's parents, an administrator, a Regular education teacher, the Resource teacher (RSP), and sometimes the Speech teacher. It is basically a pre-referral process. The purpose of the SST is to identify the child's strengths and needs, and to come up with an appropriate set of strategies and interventions that will keep the child out of a Special Day Classroom (SDC).

 

          A parent, teacher, counselor, principal, social worker, therapist or other individual involved in the education or care of the student can make a request for evaluation. After the parent signs the consent for evaluation, the school district has sixty days to complete the evaluation. If the parent refuses to sign the consent, a due process complaint is filed by the district. I have only seen this happen a couple of times in the two decades in which I was involved in Special Education, and those cases were the result of neglect. That is, the parent was just too lazy to show up to the meetings.

 

          Before anything can be done with the child, the school district must give parents notice of their rights and must make sure they understand them. These rights are part of IDEA, which stands for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The actual evaluation process is oftentimes extensive, time-consuming, and thorough, and typically involves the school psychologist, Special Education teacher, Regular Education teacher, and the speech-language pathologist. The psychologist is the one who administers IQ tests, except in cases involving black or African-American children. IQ tests for Black kids were banned statewide in 1979, because they are deemed to be discriminatory. The Special Education teacher is the one who administers achievement tests such as the Wechsler, Stanford-Binet, Kaufman, and the Woodcock-Johnson. All testing is supposed to be done by someone who is both qualified and credentialed. However, over the years, I have seen substitute teachers who didn't have the slightest idea of what they were doing give achievement tests. I spent two entire semesters learning how to administer and score these tests. The scoring, especially for the writing section, is not only complicated, but can be highly subjective. The speech-language pathologist administers a battery of tests that determine various speech and hearing impairments. The list of speech impairments alone is multitudinous and may encompass a variety of cognitive processes. The most common impairments are receptive and/or expressive language disorders, autism, apraxia, articulation, and auditory processing disorders. Hearing impairment is a broad term with about as many components and derivatives as there are with speech disorders. It takes a lot of education to become a professional speech therapist, and I have always regarded them with reverence.

 

          The crux of the initial IEP (Individual Education Program) process is the meeting in which the parent is told if the child is eligible for Special Education services. There are thirteen categories, but only one of them can be designated. The categories are:

 

1) Autism

2) Blindness

3) Deafness

4) Emotional Disturbance (ED)

5) Hearing Impairment

6) Intellectual Disability

7) Multiple Disabilities

8) Orthopedic Impairment

9) Other Health Impaired (OHI)

10) Specific Learning Disability

11) Speech or Language Impairment

12) Traumatic Brain Injury

13) Visual Impairment

 

 

          I have seen IEPs where less than competent Special Ed. teachers checked two or more. Such a thing can be quite hard to explain to a parent. If a child is eligible for Special Education services, he/she will usually be placed in one of three primary programs: the Resource Room (RSP), the Special Day Classroom for the Learning Disabled (LH-SDC), or the Special Day Classroom for the Severely Disabled (SH-SDC). Each of these programs, like anything else, has their pros and cons. My advice to any parent is to do whatever is possible to keep their child out of Special Ed., but, of course, that is oftentimes an impossibility.

 

          Severely handicapped children are generally comfortable with being in SH-SDC because most of them are severely challenged and unable to comprehend the difference from one program to another. However, that is not the case with most children in LH-SCD. They may be learning handicapped, but they know what's going on, and what they know is often very hard for them to accept.

 

          The nomenclature associated with Special Education is quite disparaging. If you were physically handicapped, you were called a cripple. If you had trouble walking, you were said to be gimpy. If you had any deformities, you were called a freak or worse, a monster. Those with epileptic seizures were said to be having a fit. Deaf people weren't just deaf, but deaf and dumb. Those with mental disorders were said to be schizoid or crazy. Perhaps the cruelest terms applied to those with intellectual disabilities; imbecile, idiot, lunatic, moron, and retarded were all legitimate terms at one time. I remember one of my Special Ed. professors showing the class some of the junk mail he used to receive bearing his name and title: Dr. Al Schmidt, Mentally Retarded, or Dr. Al Schmidt, MR.

 

          The term “Special Education” can be traced back to 1973 when Margaret Thatcher, who was then England's Education Secretary, appointed Mary Warnock to head a committee to review the educational provisions for children and young people in England, Scotland, and Wales. In 1978, Warnock coined the term “children with special needs”. The new, sanitized term sounded good at the time and was less offensive than the old nomenclature—at least for awhile. Now, instead of calling each other retarded, kids now call each other special ed. and hurling other insults such as “you ride the short bus.” When I was a kid, the buses that picked up the disabled kids had “Harvey” printed on each side, so instead of being called retarded, you were called a Harvey.

 

          Unlike children in SH-SDC, children who end up in LH-SDC know why they are there. Almost from the first day of school, the typical LH child knows nothing but failure. Having a good memory is imperative for processing verbal and non-verbal information. The three main components of memory are working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. A working memory enables the child to read each word in a sentence and know what the sentence is about. A short-term memory is necessary to answer questions about a paragraph. A long-term memory makes learning permanent, or at least for a very long time. All three memory types are necessary for the process of scaffolding, as theorized by the Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). Scaffolding is the support given to a student during the learning process. Vygotsky coined the phrase zone of proximal development (ZPD) to describe what the learner can do by himself/herself, and what he/she can do with help. After the ZPD is reached, the learner moves to a higher level. The process is very similar to that of painting a tall building. After painting a lower portion of the wall, the scaffold is raised to a higher level.

 

          Five words come to mind whenever I think children with learning disabilities: anger, humiliation, resentment, frustration, and hopelessness. Being told that you are special ed. is just a polite way of being told you are retarded. This is not the main reason why there are so many behavior problems in Special Ed., but having low self-esteem certainly doesn't help.

 

          By the time a child ended up in my program, all he/she ever knew was how to fail, which is why so many of them simply give up. In addition to all the testing done in the Regular Education program, the child is subjected to a substantial battery of tests during the assessment process. I found that a lot of students scored much lower than they should have simply because they didn't try. It's hard enough to educate someone with a learning disability, and next to impossible once the child decides to tune you out completely. After all, you can't teach a fencepost.

 

          Whenever you get a child who has given up on learning, you generally have a behavioral problem on your hands. The vast majority of behavior problems happen to be boys; in particular, boys without respectable fathers. All boys need a mother, but a mother can't raise a boy by herself. I know there are exceptions, but as a general rule, that is what I've concluded after teaching in the public school system for some thirty years.

The public school system is a monopolistic, bureaucratic Leviathan that is over-regulated and stymied by politics at every level. The system is in a constant state of change and flux because of the massive amount of funding it receives from the federal government. I have read that the total amount comes to $922.6 billion, but it wouldn't surprise me if the exact figure were more. Finding the exact figures is not an easy task because of so many variables and overlap in the federal budget. It would take a CPA to unravel all the numbers.

 

          When I began my teaching career in 1979 as a substitute, some of the veteran teachers I happened to encounter at different sites were amazed to discover that I had but an emergency credential and absolutely no teacher training. Not only did they consider me to be unqualified because I hadn't taken student teaching, they were even more perturbed by the fact that I hadn't taken a single methods course.

 

          One of the first things you learn when you begin your teaching methods courses is Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain, which consists of six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that, but that is about as much as most teachers can remember. Bloom's Taxonomy is one of the few things I learned back in the early 1980s that hasn't been replaced with something else.

 

          Believe it or not, Bloom's Taxonomy also applies to children with cognitive disabilities, but what is being taught must be at their level of reasoning. Thus, it does no good to try and teach abstract concepts to a child incapable of thinking abstractly. It is hard to fully realize that point if you haven't worked with Special Education students before. Even after having earned my Special Ed. credential and a master’s degree in Special Education, I have always felt that there was still a lot more to learn.

 

          When I first became a teacher in Regular Ed., I knew absolutely nothing about Special Education. Even after I had completed my Regular Ed. credential, I was still almost completely ignorant of Special Education. I had a couple kids who went to RSP, but I didn't even know what the letters RSP stood for. I remember attending my first IEP meeting, and I didn't even know what an IEP was. Furthermore, I kept referring to the student as being “dull” and wondered why the RSP (Resource Specialist Program) teacher would wince every time I said it until she finally took me aside and educated me on the appropriate term to use, i.e., delayed. I haven't been able to live that moment down to this very day.

 

          Special Education has taken a lot of pressure off Regular Ed. teachers. Without Special Day Classrooms students with special needs would remain in classrooms where the curriculum is far above their cognitive abilities. There would be one teacher with thirty-two students and no aide, moving at a fast but steady pace in order to cover all of the required material in a timely manner. One of my students was so lost that all he wanted to do was clean. So, while I was at the board teaching a lesson, Jason would be somewhere in the classroom cleaning or putting things away. The reason he wasn't already in Special Ed. was because the referral process can take a few years, particularly if the student has a poor attendance record, or parents who fail to follow through on tasks that are their responsibility, such as making sure that their child's broken glasses get fixed and that he/she gets to bed on time.

 

          Segregation has always been a problem for Special Ed. teachers. Dr. Schmidt used to tell us that when he was teaching Special Education, his classroom seemed to exist on some desolate island. He said that his classroom was located away from the General Ed. population of the school. When I first became a Special Ed. teacher, I was given dingy classrooms that nobody wanted, and the RSP room was the hallway next to the Special Ed. offices at the far north end of the school. When Special Ed. kids are kept isolated from the General Ed. population, one of their most fundamental rights is being violated: the right to a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The LRE is one of the main provisions of PL 94-142, Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975), which stipulates the maximum possible opportunity for Special Ed. students to interact with non-impaired students.

 

          The basis of PL 94-142 can be traced back to Brown vs. The Board of Education (1954) even though Brown made no reference to children with disabilities. Brown overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) which created the doctrine of “separate but equal” and ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The LRE is a very important part of PL 94-142 and has become the basis for other mandates, such as full inclusion. Without the LRE clause, Special Ed. children might be relegated back to total isolation as they once were.

 

          When Special Ed. children are not integrated with the General Ed. population, they are being denied a sense of normality. One of the ways children learn is through imitation. When Special Ed. children are cooped up with each other day after day, they have only themselves as role models. They are denied exposure to what everybody else is learning in the General Ed. curriculum.

 

          Mainstreaming is the process of integrating Special Ed. students into the Regular Education environment, and is usually done in three ways: 1) allowing Special Ed. kids to interact with Regular Ed. kids during recesses and lunch; 2) allowing Special Ed. kids to attend all school-wide functions such as assemblies, field trips, and various school-wide programs (such as D.A.R.E. and Character Counts); 3) allowing Special Ed. kids to attend Regular Ed. classrooms for subjects and activities they are capable of doing outside of the Special Day Classroom (art, p.e., music, and English Language Development (ELD) are the most common).

 

          Getting kids mainstreamed can be an arduous task for various reasons. More of than not, conflicting schedules are usually the biggest obstacle. A child may have Speech or Adaptive P.E. at the same time that the Regular Ed. teacher has ELD. Since ELD, speech services and mainstreaming are required by law, this can pose a major obstacle for the Special Ed. teacher. I have found that most Regular Ed. teachers are intransigent and refuse to change their schedule. Fortunately, the vast majority of speech teachers are amenable and will go out of their way to assist you. A lot of Regular Ed. teachers simply don't want to be bothered. They feel that they've got enough to do with their own students and don't appreciate the added burden. There is also the occasional problem of convincing the Special Ed. kid that he/she is better off going to another class. They often feel too intimidated to leave the comfort of the Special Ed. nest. This is especially true with children who have a specific learning disability (SLD).

 

          Children with a SLD are often confused with children who have an intellectual disability (i.e., mild mental retardation). I have had children classified as mentally retarded (MR) who could out-perform those with specific learning disabilities, particularly in reading and writing. In order to be designated as MR, the standard score (SS) on performance (achievement) tests must be consistent with the child's IQ. Thus, if the IQ and the SS is in the 50-69, the child is said to have an intellectual disability. In order to be eligible for Special Education services under SLD (Specific Learning Disabilities), there must be a discrepancy between intellectual ability (IQ) and performance (achievement tests). If, for instance, the child has an IQ of 90 and an SS of 65, he/she is said to have a learning disability.

 

          The vast majority of SLD students I've worked with had a visual processing disorder. Some also had an auditory processing disorder. A visual processing disorder has nothing to do with a child's vision. It is also important to note that a cognitive disorder has nothing to do with intelligence. The key word is processing—what the brain does with the information that comes through the eyes. Dyslexia is a very common reading disorder among SLD children, but oddly enough I have never seen it mentioned in an IEP. Although there are two kinds of dyslexia (language processing and visual processing), there are several variants. Children with dyslexia are of normal, or above normal, intelligence, yet they are often perceived as being unintelligent because they cannot read as well as their peers; some cannot read at all. Dyslexic children often feel a lot of anger and frustration, which often leads to emotional problems. Giving dyslexic children reading awards doesn't do any good. Oftentimes they just throw them in the trashcan, because they feel they don't deserve them.

 

          One of the main differences between public and private schools is how each go about building a child's self-esteem. Private schools focus on academic performance and strong discipline. Public schools use artificial praise and a plethora of meaningless awards; some for academic, other for doing nothing but vegetating. It is the philosophy of egalitarianism, the belief that all people must be equal even if that means taking another person down a notch or two. Public schools don't like teachers who give 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Everybody has to be a winner. Private schools know that handing out superficial awards engenders over-confidence and a lackadaisical attitude. Self-esteem is a major problem with children who are learning disabled. I once had a dyslexic student named Lenin who came to me in the fourth grade only knowing seven letters of the alphabet. He was an extremely hard worker with a great attitude, and after about a year he learned to read and write. At the fifth-grade promotional ceremony, he read a long speech that I helped him write in front of everybody. Other than making him Student of the Month, I don't remember ever giving him more than a couple award certificates.

 

          As a Special Ed. Teacher, I placed greater emphasis on teaching survival skills than anything else. That put me at odds with two principals who believed that I should have been adhering to the General Education curriculum even though my students ended up in Special Ed. because they were unable to function in Regular Ed. It was completely ludicrous, and the consequences I faced for refusing to do things their way is the subject of this book.

 

          I never even thought about becoming a Special Ed. teacher when I first became a teacher. The reason I became a teacher was because, by nature, I am very patient and intrinsically knew how to teach. It was something I could do very easily. I loved teaching. It was a job that didn't seem like work. When I got my first classroom in September 1986, I was free to teach the way I wanted to and be pretty much my own boss. I was teaching third grade and was given a reading series that consisted of four levels. The English text focused on grammar, but the district had done away with spelling books. The math text was what I'd call mediocre at best. There was also a health book and a science text; both, too, were just mediocre. I bought a computer in November and immediately started creating my own lessons in order to compensate for the deficiencies in the district’s curriculum. I created spelling lessons that involved an extensive vocabulary and critical thinking exercises. I made up word problems in math. I even made up lessons based on the CTBS (California Test of Basic Skills) so that my students were prepared for the big state test that all students took in the spring. My students, overall, were so successful that nearly all of the parents of English-speaking kids wanted their children to be in my classroom. That posed a big problem for the administration because, according to the law, children with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) had to be integrated with English-speaking kids (EO). The way the district got around this was quite clever. I had LEPs and EOs on my attendance, but after taking attendance, my LEPs went to another classroom in exchange for her EOs.

 

          The Whole Language movement came about in the early 1990s and was based on the progressive theories of Noam Chomsky and Ken Goodman. In a nutshell, Whole Language is a method of teaching children to read by recognizing words as whole pieces of language. It is an approach that directly contradicts explicit instruction, i.e., teaching the fundamentals such as spelling and phonics. Based on my experience as a teacher, I would estimate that about 70% of students will learn to read regardless of how they are taught. That means that about 30% of the students are left behind, and that is a large number of kids. Along with Whole Language, the district forced teachers to use Cooperative Learning tactics. I opposed both these programs, and because I refused to adopt them into my teaching methods, the principal and I were at loggerheads. That's when I decided to go into Special Education.

 

          As a Special Ed. teacher I was able to pretty much do things my own way. After acquiring my credential and MS degree, I could call myself an expert at what I did for a living. I knew how to conduct a variety of assessments and how to create Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Over the years I had acquired a substantial amount of knowledge and expertise in working with all kinds of syndromes and conditions, including children with emotional disorders.

 

          The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a very broad civil rights law that prohibits discrimination because of a person's disability. Even though this law has been greatly abused by so-called freeloaders, as well as a lot of money-grubbing attorneys, it has done a lot of good, particularly by providing much-needed accommodations for the disabled. However, despite the number of laws passed by Congress, you can't change human nature. If someone doesn't like you for one reason or another, he/she will find a way of making life miserable for you. I know this first hand.

 

          When I was a child, I had a significant speech impediment and was pulled out of class once a week for speech therapy. This went on until I was in junior high. It's hard for a kid who talks like Donald Duck to be respected and taken seriously by his peers and others. If the kid has a speech impediment and a condition known as Tourette syndrome at the same time, life can be pretty cruel. I know, because I grew up with both of these conditions. Until recently, nobody had ever heard the term, and people would look at you as if your were sort of strange. They still do. People saw you twitching about and wouldn't trust you. They still don't. I know.

Having Tourette syndrome is a lot like being a stutterer in that you have to deal with it 100% of the time. You only get a break when you are asleep. At one time, I wanted to become a lawyer, but I soon realized I would have a hell of a time winning a case in front of a jury if I had an episode of motor tics. You can try your best to maintain control, but half the time you aren't even aware of them. Everybody is aware of what you are doing, but they usually won't mention it to you, and that is being very wise on their part. Imagine somebody walking up to you and saying, “You're kind of retarded, aren't you?” One of my favorite talk radio hosts verbally attacked a left-wing political opponent using a snide Tourette reference. I turned off the radio. I can't remember whom he was referring to nor what he said. The only thing that stuck in my mind was the insult. I think that if that talk show host were to walk a mile in my shoes, he wouldn't think Tourette syndrome is so funny.

 

          The last thing I will say about Tourette syndrome is that, like autism, it consists of a wide spectrum of disorders. More people suffer from it than you think, but the vast majority of them don't want to talk about it, which is why they often become loners. I was surprised to discover that one of my favorite actors, Dan Aykroyd, was diagnosed not only with Tourette, but Asperger syndrome. Fortunately for him, both were very mild cases and, according to him, were treatable. Speaking as one with personal experience in the matter, I doubt that. Therapy, at best, may help a person cope with the symptoms. There is really only one way to minimize the condition. You must divert the behavior into other channels. When Dan Aykroyd is acting, his symptoms cease to exist. The symptoms may lesson over a period of time, but the best way to manage them is to keep your mind preoccupied. My favorite billionaire, Howard Hughes, also had it. Most people were unaware of this because Howard had much more prominent eccentricities and was reclusive. There is some speculation that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had it. The condition is a lot more common than one might think.

 

          As a Special Ed. teacher I knew that there were four things my students needed to master in order to be successful in the world. First, they needed to learn how to read and write. They also needed to know how to do basic math. Finally, they needed to develop a positive attitude with the will to achieve. Without those components, they were doomed to fail.

 

          Behavior problems are usually the biggest obstacles to student success in Special Education. The behavior logs in this book mostly involve boys, yet that's not to say girls can't be just as difficult. When I was growing up, teachers never went to in-services to learn how to deal with disruptive students. They didn't need to because teachers had the support of parents. A kid considered himself lucky if all he ever got was a swat or two for being negligent; i.e., being “a dummy.” The thing that kids dreaded most was being sent to the office and having the vice principal or principal call home. If that ever happened to me, there'd be a switch waiting for me as soon as my father got home from work. Nowadays, less than half of the children in the U.S. live in a traditional family (with a heterosexual mom and dad in their first marriage). In many divorces, it is quite common to find that one parent has turned the child against the other parent. It is also common to find today's children being raised by single moms who are either shacked-up with a boyfriend living at home with Grandma. When Grandma treats Mom like a child, that (grand)child often fails to see Mom as an authority figure. Instead, Mom becomes more like a sibling. Furthermore, today's kids know they can have their parents arrested for child abuse. Many of them even dare teachers to call home. “Go ahead and call my mom. She won't do nothing!” I must have heard that line at least a hundred times over the years. Boys are particularly good at saying that because they are masters at getting under their mother's skin. They tend to know what makes Mom tick and how to unravel her mainspring with just a look or a couple of words. By contrast, boys cannot manipulate their fathers in such a way. Fathers lack the patience mothers have, and boys know that Dad won't put up with their nonsense for very long. The one thing I've rarely heard a kid say was, “Go ahead, call my dad. He won't do nothing!” I have found that most boys aren't afraid of angering their father. When a father tells his son, “I'm very disappointed in you,” it is often worse than being hit or grounded.

 

          A mother can never take the place of a father, and all boys need a dad (and not necessarily a biological dad). There are always exceptions, but I will go to my grave believing in the necessity of fatherhood. I don't think Boy's Town would have been as successful if Mother Teresa had been there instead of Father Flanagan. Mothers are more nurturing than fathers, and boys are prone to take advantage of that. When I was a Cub Scout, my den mother was a woman, but the pack leader was a man, and we acted much differently with her than we did with him. Being called a clown by your den mother felt like a compliment, even if she said it out of anger, because it made you feel significant in front of your peers. Being called a clown by the pack leader, on the other hand, made you feel humiliated in front of your friends because there is nothing manly about being labeled a buffoon by a father figure.

 

          It's hard for a mother to relate to a boy because boys are inherently different than girls. In 2004, the Swedes tried to create gender parity by forcing gender neutrality on children. That is, they tried to get boys to play with girl toys and girls to play with boy toys. In the 12/06/2012 article, You Can Give a Boy a Doll, but You Can't Make Him Play With It, Professor David Geary, a developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri, gave his granddaughter a toy train to play with. Instead of playing with it as a boy would do, she treated it as a doll by putting it in a baby carriage and covering it with a blanket so it could sleep.

The main difference between boys and girls is a fact based on volumes of endocrinological research. According to the Mayo Clinic, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a “collection of genetic conditions that limit your adrenal glands’ ability to make certain vital hormones” (particularly that of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”). There are two major types of CAH: Classic and Nonclassic. The former is a more severe form of the disease usually detected in infancy or early childhood. The latter is a milder version that becomes evident in late childhood or adolescence. Hence, girls exposed to high testosterone levels in the womb are far more likely to become tomboys.

 

          Androgyny advocates (such as those in Sweden) simply refuse to accept the biological fact that boys are different than girls. When female rhesus monkeys received male hormones, their behavior became more aggressive. Of course, such an outcome is a no-brainer, but convincing dyed-in-the-wool liberals of that is next to impossible because it goes against their agenda.

 

          Egalia is a state-sponsored preschool in Södermalm (a district in Stockholm) that emphasizes complete gender equality. They replaced the pronouns him and her with the genderless term “hen,” a term that is part of the gay lexicon. Tales like Snow White and Cinderella have been replaced by tales based on homosexuality. The speciously stated goal, according to one of its teachers, is to provide children with “a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be,” but only a fool or a Swede could believe such nonsense.

 

          Public schools in the U.S. have been headed toward gender neutrality for a long time. I remember some of the gender equity in-services teachers were obliged to attend when I began teaching in the early 1980s. Children were no longer allowed to have a boys and girls line. Even when they wanted to line up that way, teachers wouldn't allow it. Teachers were also required to keep a log on how many times girls were called on to answer questions.

 

          Genderless bathrooms in public schools may soon become the norm, and that is only the beginning. Some schools, such as a district in Nebraska, encourage teachers to refrain from using phrases such as “boys and girls,” or “ladies and gentlemen.” Instead, they have teachers create names such as the “purple penguins,” and group children according to what they like, “summer or winter,” “milk or juice,” or “skateboards or bikes.” All those interests, you will notice, are pretty much gender neutral.

 

          I've always treated children as individuals and respect them for who they are rather than trying to change them into something they are not. I have had CAH students before and have always respected their individuality without forcing changes on everybody else. As for bullying, most of the bullies I've encountered were boys who were being raised by their mothers. Fathers feel a deep sense of shame when told their son is a bully. Mothers, on the other hand, are more likely to be defensive and in denial.

 

          My program was pretty basic. I taught my students the 3 R's (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), functional skills (telling time, making change with money, and important words such as FLAMMABLE), and I also taught things that everybody ought to know: geography, the history of our nation, important laws and civic duties, and current events. Another thing I did was to teach them to appreciate the very essence of greatness. I taught them to appreciate great art, literature, and classical music. I also taught them to respect and appreciate the miracle of life and to realize that time is limited and precious. Finally, I taught them the meaning of gratitude. As my grandmother used to tell me, you can always find someone a lot worse off than you are so just be grateful for what you have.

 

          The book you are about to read is a documentation of my life as a teacher in the public school system. The twenty years I spent as a Special Education teacher were extraordinarily difficult. Some of the students I got were misplaced and should have been in different programs. My program was designed to educate children with learning disabilities, not children who were severely handicapped or emotionally disturbed. Children were placed in my program because they were far below grade level and were unable to learn in a General Ed. environment. The vast majority of them came to me unmotivated and with a low self-esteem. Forcing them back to the General Ed. curriculum, as two principals demanded would have been disastrous. My obstinance was viewed as insubordination and resulted in many vicious battles, the last of which became the fight of my life.

 

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Inside Special Education

Two Decades in the Snake Pit

 

Dedicated to my attorney, 

Jeffrey R. Boxer

ADAGIO FOR STRINGS - SAMUEL BARBER
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