Standing Up For Special Education
Why Can’t The School District Get The Words Right?
As the LAUSD forces integration policies on families, it continues using language that is exclusionary to children with severe SpEd needs.
– Steven Aitchison
Words can be a powerful weapon:
I clearly remember when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power embarked on a plan in the mid-1990s to replenish the aquifer underneath the San Fernando Valley. The start of this water recycling project was not a surprise to me as it was extensively covered by the Los Angeles Daily News. The coverage included not only maps of the areas that would be affected and timetables for construction but also an explanation of how the project would work including the steps that were taken to ensure that the water was safe for human consumption.
As the disruptive construction process came to an end the Daily News covered the project again. However, this time they reframed the “water recycling” as “toilet to tap.” They “went on to feature almost daily stories about the potential harm to people who drank the reclaimed water.” The resulting hysteria forced the DWP to end the project just eight months after turning it on, wasting much of the $55 million that had been spent.
During the past school year, I have thought often about the effect that words can have as I participated as a member of the Special Education Committee. Instead of using the committee as a way to advise the district on the implementation of policy, each of these bi-monthly meetings was driven by LAUSD bureaucrats explaining how services are delivered. Month after month I would explain how the words used ignored the needs of students with severe…