I wanted to thank you for attending the meeting today. I am still processing what I said, what I heard and what was recommended.
I saw it coming when I read the draft but I hoped I was wrong. I saw the indications that Mim was having difficulties in the large group so she was separating herself in the hallway and this would be evidence of her need for pull out services- along with her consistent low and slow progress (which is a function of her disability.)
I see your personal attention to Mim. I see your hope that she gets the best education to meet her needs.
I hope to send research and information later but I wanted to express that Mim and our family are part of the change that has been brewing. Covid, anti-racist protests and the end of Trump’s presidency have been strange times to live in. Being right is no longer enough. Life is not what I imagined as a child of the South.
1. “I don’t see color.”
2. “The police are here to protect us.”
3. “Be tolerant.”
4. “Mim is so lucky y’all adopted her.”
5. “One can find a study to prove anything.”
6. “A smaller group can address her individual needs.”
7. “Mim is so cute.”
8. “Mim can be included this year and we will see if she can handle the large group. All the kids in this class can read and _______ grade is rigorous. It will be impossible for her to keep up.””
All these phrases were part of my history. And yet they are untrue and hurtful. We as a society are learning. Some of us adopt new ideas quickly and some of us hold on for dear life to our old beliefs.
Mim is an example of the new world.
1. Mim is a person of color. I see her dark brown skin and her hair the color of the ocean in moonlight. Her beauty is apparent and I see her power to change society. I recognize the need for anti-racist and anti-abelist education.
2. The police kill too many people with disabilities and too many people who are black and brown.
3. Don’t tolerate hate, white supremacy, Karens, ableism. If you aren’t protesting, talking to your white friends, family and colleagues, giving money and voting, then you are the problem. It is not enough to be nice. Fight racism.
4. Mim isn’t lucky to be adopted. Her story, her birth and her life has trauma and death and beauty and strength. But not luck.
5. We believe in science. We believe in vaccines. We believe in depression and anxiety even when Mim “never does that at school.”
6. The smaller group of children all with disabilities is clear segregation because separate is never equal. As a human and Mim’s mom I cannot tolerate any segregation. Segregation is unacceptable even for a minute. “When we frame the human rights of individuals with disabilities within the larger context of civil rights, we are able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with allies throughout this community to have a great impact on the needs and rights of everyone.” (quote from TASH https://tash.org/advocacy-issues/human-rights/ )
7. Mim being female and Mim having a disability makes her a target. Mim understanding the big scary world is necessary. It is impossible to keep her safe and content. 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lives. (quote from Disabilityjustice.com )
8. Mim is included because she is a human. The only qualification required for inclusion is the value of her humanity. Segregation is wrong. Segregation is not an education model. Inclusion is a lifelong philosophy. Mim is a valued human being deserving of equal rights and an enviable life. Entrance into a classroom with her peers does not depend on her ability.
I hope you see the power and excitement of progress. People with disabilities are awesome at pushing for change. Their participation in the civil rights movement is inspiring. Join the fight. Be an inclusion advocate. Dismantle old ideas and models regarding special education as you do in other areas of your life. Did the pandmeic change you? Did the Trump presidency cause you to examine American life? Did George Floyd’s murder shock you into acting? Disability Rights are part of the vision.
We all do better when we all do better.
Sincerely with love and hope,
Martee Rodi, Mim’s mom