Tag Archives: special needs

Big ED Lobbies Against Special Needs Kids

I’m appalled by the lack of understanding of the issue exhibited in the recent Appleton Post-Crescent editorial, Bill could hurt special-needs students.  Obviously, in spite of the misleading title, the newspaper is only interested in doing the bidding of powerful, paid education and disabilities lobbyists hoping to maintain the public schools monopoly and status quo, instead of supporting a promising effort to truly reform special needs education. 

As a mother of three exceptionally challenged children and as a member of my local Board of Education, I wholeheartedly support AB110 and SB486, and the Special Needs Scholarship Program it establishes.  I commend Representative Michelle Litjens and Senator Leah Vukmir, as well as each Assembly and Senate supporter and cosponsor for recognizing the genuine need for this law.

Will Wisconsin legislators cast their vote in favor of special needs children and empower their parents... or side with powerful paid lobbyists?

About fifteen to twenty years ago, my children, who are vision impaired, with physical and mental challenges, attended public schools.  Our daughter was, in effect, warehoused, spending most days scribbling with crayons on scrap paper, usually half-filling a paper grocery bag each week… yet the school was unresponsive to our concerns.  It wasn’t unusual for her to arrive home bruised or with a bloody face or broken glasses, yet the school was unresponsive to our concerns for her safety.

Exasperated, I expressed my frustrations to my doctor and was asked what I thought the school would do if I sent my daughter to school in the condition she arrived home… the lightbulb went on! I returned home, picked up the phone and reported them to Child Protective Services. That felt so good, I followed up by filing an assault and battery report with the local police. The elementary school wasted no time in politely calling us, requesting a meeting. My husband and I arrived a few minutes early and witnessed the school attorney castigating the principal… and from then on things improved, significantly. That was, until she started middle school and it began all over, again.

Our family didn’t have an opportunity to use a Special Needs Scholarship.  But knowing I could do far better than what our children experienced in public school, I homeschooled them. They not only learned, but did so even beyond my expectations.

In public school, our youngest son was illiterate at third grade when we began homeschooling.  By fifth grade, I had brought him up to grade level. I’ll never forget how after he learned to read – and even became proficient in spelling – he confessed how he always felt “dumb” in public school.  Our daughter excelled at history and geography.  Give her the name of a city and she will tell you it’s country and continent with an amazing level of accuracy. These children can learn, if they are given the right opportunity to do so.

One of the reasons I ran for a seat on our school board was to ensure other families do not go through what we experienced.  Attending the Senate hearing last week and listening to so many parents testify about their situations, it became quite clear things haven’t changed all that much, at least for some.

There are many dedicated special ed teachers in Wisconsin and public schools which do a fine job with special needs students.  However, each child has their own, unique challenges.  Try as they may, no school can be all things to all children.  Parents love their children and know what’s best for them… they are the experts.  But when the local school district is not meeting their child’s needs, parents must have options.  The Special Needs Scholarship Program provides those options by empowering parents.

Special Needs Scholarship Program detractors cite the fact a public school losing a student would likewise lose general aid equal to the amount of the voucher.  Should schools be paid for services they do not provide?  Absolutely not.

Typically, public schools are only partially reimbursed from the state or federal governments, in our district’s case it’s about 27 cents for each dollar spent on special ed services, with local taxpayers footing the bill for the lion’s share at 73 cents. If Special Needs Scholarships become a reality and some parents choose to send their children to another school, far more dollars are freed up than what the school loses.

Parents of exceptionally challenged children pay their property taxes, yet if their local public school district is failing their child, is it right or fair they should have to pay a private school, also? Absolutely not.

When a special needs student’s education is stagnant or she is being victimized by bullies, is it right to trap the child in the ineffective, unsafe or unresponsive school for the remainder of the school year, until the parents can file an open enrollment request… for the following fall, which the local school boards can – and often do – decline? Absolutely not.

Public schools will continue receiving state aid for special needs students they educate.  If they are truly doing a good job, they have nothing to fear – and may actually stand to gain new students.  At the very least, the passage of AB110 or SB486 will force public schools to look inward and make positive changes by improving special needs students’ learning, ensuring they are not victims of bullies, being more responsive to the parents’ concerns and guaranteeing these programs operate at a higher level of fiscal responsibility.

Another benefit could result from public school districts partnering and working cooperatively in providing special education services more efficiently and with greater effectiveness.  Instead of each public school operating in a silo and reinventing the wheel for their pool of special ed students, much could be gained with a collaborative or reciprocal approach.  Cooperative efforts between public school districts could be a win-win situation for all:  the children and families served, participating public schools and taxpayers.

This is not a Democrat vs Republican issue. It is a matter of elected legislators setting aside their partisan politics and doing the right thing by listening to and representing these children and their families. After all, it is the parents who know what’s best for their own children… not powerful education-related organizations or paid lobbyists standing in opposition to this bill, desperate to prevent the school voucher genie from escaping the bottle while maintaining the status quo.

I firmly believe all parents should have the opportunity to choose their own child’s school, irrespective of their financial status or zip code, and regardless of the child’s standing as a special needs student or not… be it public, private, charter or homeschool.

Modern Day Eugenics

It’s not uncommon for individuals and families of those diagnosed with a genetic condition to be asked to donate blood for genetic research purposes. Many do, desperately hoping and praying their participation in the project will result in the discovery of a treatment or cure to help their affected child or loved one. But these families are unaware they are actually pawns in a modern day eugenics.

God cherishes each and every baby... so must we

Deceived into believing identifying “the gene” meant hope for a treatment or even a cure, my own family participated in a blood draw about twenty years ago. Genetic research can be slow, tedious work and as the ensuing years slipped by, hope for a breakthrough dimmed.

Fast forward to April 2009 when, out of the blue, I heard from the doctor, who is considered to be the foremost expert in the world on our children’s genetic condition. He also heads the research project at the prestigious Baylor University in Texas. When he called, asking for another blood donation for the purpose of continuing the work, he told me they had run out of our samples and felt they were very, very close to discovering a completely “new” gene, unique to our family. Flickering hope reignited and without hesitation, I agreed. Soon, a package containing vials and consent forms was on it’s way to our doorstep.

Curious as to the status of the research, and since the doctor had mentioned the name of a fellow researcher at Duke University who was focused on working to discover “our” gene, I Googled. Checking online sources, I soon found a paper detailing the researcher’s work on our children’s genetic condition originating from a presentation he gave to colleagues. It was an eye-opening read. As I read, the truth became crystal clear. My hope was snuffed out, stomped and drowned by buckets of betrayal. I was stunned and bitterly disappointed to discover there’s no hope of preventing, treating or reversing blindness, physical or mental disabilities or any of the other symptoms associated with the condition. NO HOPE. Absolutely no hope, at all.

Because it’s a rare syndrome, funding is extremely limited, but beyond that and contrary to everything we were led to believe, the researchers and experts, themselves, admit the likelihood of a cure or treatment for any of the associated health problems is non-existent. It’s nothing more than a fairy tale told to desired blood donors to exchange false hope for vials of blood – potentially worth a fortune.

I learned the only expected outcome of the research described is in the development a screening test for use prenatally… to identify unborn children with the condition. Surely an end goal of enormous financial benefit to the researchers, universities, and most certainly the genetic testing and abortion industries, which is the ONLY reason why the research has continued all these years. It is fueled by their expectation of a big financial payoff down the road. No one had mentioned this fact to me… ever, and the stack of consent forms accompanying the vials conveniently omitted this information, as well.

“Their throats are open graves. Their tongues practice deception. Their lips hide the venom of poisonous snakes.”–Romans 3:13 (God’s Word Translation)

Undoubtedly, our unwitting participation in the genetic research project would eventually result in the creation of a test designed to identify this condition in unborn children and facilitate the murder of God only knows how many innocents.

This raises serious moral and ethical concerns because many pregnant women undergoing genetic testing and counseling could – and do – decide not to carry what they perceive to be a “defective” child to term. Such a decision could be based on misinformation, false perceptions, prejudice or fear about the quality of life for children with disabilities… or even unreliable test results. Prenatal genetic testing, which can now include approximately 6,000 so-called “defects”, stacks the deck against the unborn child. It puts the mother in a position of being pressured to quickly make the decision so the child can be aborted, while she is still processing the shock of the test results and fear of the unknown.

When a child is born who has a challenge, it is not always evident at birth. Often, it may be many years before the condition is apparent and a vast number of so-called “defects” are not life-threatening or even life-altering. Without prenatal genetic testing, the natural process of forging the mother and child’s bond of love is able to progress, as God intended. Someday, when the challenge presents itself, the family does the best they can to deal with the situation because the child is loved and rightfully viewed as part of themselves.

Families, like ours, with exceptionally challenged children, experience life’s ups and downs… triumphs and difficulties… joys and heartbreaks… just like any other family. Our children are normal. Just like everyone else, they deserve equal respect… and the opportunity to enjoy their God-given right to Life. These children are a precious gift from God. They are truly a blessing to our lives. How empty our lives would be without these children my husband and I deeply respect, admire, cherish, adore and love so dearly. They are our family and our life.

The very thought that our family’s blood, given in good faith, could ever be used for such a detestable, evil purpose, contrary to our Christian moral beliefs and without our knowledge or consent is unthinkable, inexcusable and absolutely infuriating. Genetic research is the new genocide. It threatens to exterminate an entire social class of people who do not fit into society’s ideal of “normal”… those who are viewed as “defective”… those who are labeled as mentally or physically disabled. It is disability racism… the extermination of an ‘undesired’ population group… which is eugenics:

“Indeed, parents of babies diagnosed prenatally with DS [Downs Syndrome] reported in the study mentioned above that 23 percent of the physicians or genetics counselors they spoke with either “emphasized the negative” aspects of parenting such children or “urged” parents to choose abortion.”–Politically Correct Eugenics by Wesley J. Smith, published in the Weekly Standard

“Still, social policy may be unable to sway a seemingly strong personal preference for avoiding children with perceived genetic defects. About 90 percent of women who learn they are carrying a fetus with the extra 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome choose an abortion. Studies have shown that many women choose to abort for diagnoses of less serious conditions.”–Genetic Testing + Abortion = ??? by Amy Harmon, New York Times

“There are troublesome implications to those statistics and the new testing,” says Dr. Mary Mahowald, a University of Chicago ethicist. “They suggest an attitude that deems the lives of people with disabilities not worth living. They’re also troublesome because the fewer people with disabilities there are, the more likely they are to be victims of discrimination.”–Baylor Offers Fetal DNA Test Sheds Light, But Stirs an Ethical Battle by Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle

Upon learning the truth, I immediately telephoned the doctor at Baylor University to inform him we would NOT be a part of any effort to identify the gene, now knowing the intended use for the information would be the development of such a test – one that could and would undoubtedly be used as a “reason” to abort children. He made no attempt whatsoever to deny the facts – nor did he even bother to offer an apology for the deception.

After our conversation, I immediately followed through to ensure that our family’s past participation would likewise be purged from their files and records, along with any remaining blood samples in their possession. Had we trustingly and unknowingly contributed the requested blood to this research project – with an end result of facilitating the discovery of a prenatal test, it would have been devastating to know our family was indirectly responsible for the abortion deaths of untold numbers of innocent unborn children as well as the lifelong guilt and emotional suffering abortion wrecks on the parents’ lives. This is the face of modern day eugenics… right here, in the “land of the free”.

I firmly believe it is unethical for genetic researchers to deliberately deceive and exploit donor families by omission – but that is exactly what’s happening. The genetic research industry is deliberately deceiving potential blood donors by employing fabricated lies manufactured for the sole purpose of manipulating and exploiting families like ours. Because they are not providing full disclosure, families and individual blood donors are denied the opportunity to make a fully informed decision as to whether or not they wish to participate. This is morally and ethically wrong.

“In any event, in the minds of many ethicists, the testing suggests the arrival of a new eugenics, not state-run but voluntary. They debate whether it’s a “good or bad eugenics,” noting that before Adolf Hitler gave it a bad name, eugenics was science’s hope for a better future, the answer to economic inequities and social ills.”–Baylor Offers Fetal DNA Test Sheds Light, But Stirs an Ethical Battle by Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle

Families asked to participate in genetic research deserve honesty with the respect and right of full disclosure so as to avoid violating their personal ethics, religious and moral beliefs.

As a Christian mother devoted to protecting ALL unborn children, I would like to see legislation written to require Full Disclosure notification to all families and individuals, who are either solicited to participate or who are seeking inclusion in any genetic research project – as well as to all past and present participants. The whole truth must be provided so each and every participant fully understands the possibility their cooperation in efforts to identify specific genes could result – or already has resulted – in a screening test used to identify and abort unborn children who carry the same gene. It must be clearly given both verbally and in writing to each participant to prevent any individual from being unwittingly exploited. Anything less than full disclosure is unethical and unacceptable.

“Let it not seem to you that one of these little ones is of no value; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels see at all times the face of my Father in heaven.”–Matthew 18:10 (Bible in Basic English)

“The King will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth:  Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me’”–Matthew 25:40 (God’s Word Translation)

There is a clear choice to be made:  either you believe in LIFE… or you believe it is OK to kill babies. Will you stand up for all unborn children – or look the other way? Please share this message with others.

God cherishes, each and every baby, born or unborn… so must we.

Dehumanizing People

Last year, the Wisconsin legislature expanded the scope of sex-education in our state when they passed 2009 Wisconsin Act 134 into law. It is a controversial change because local school boards choosing to teach Human Growth and Development lost their ability to teach abstinence before marriage without forced inclusion of Planned Parenthood-style comprehensive sex-ed, as a result of the so-called Healthy Youth Act of 2009.

Now, many public schools are including, at the very least, discussions on the issue of abortion. In some school districts, Planned Parenthood, or other like-minded groups, are actually allowed into classrooms to “teach” these sensitive topics, giving them the opportunity for financial gain as they cultivate students’ trust while undermining family values.

In schools across the country, districts using GLENCOE Education in Sexuality textbooks, are subverting some students’ Christian, Pro-Life values by introducing a grey area concept in what is, and should be, a black and white issue. In teacher-led discussion, the class analyzes three different viewpoints on abortion… yes, three: against, in favor, and what they call “A Third View”.

Follows is an excerpt:

Some people believe that abortion should be legal in special cases. Those cases include pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, when the physical health and life of the pregnant female is in danger, and if certain severe birth defects are confirmed. These people feel that abortions for any other reason should be illegal.

The GLENCOE book limits the topic to a couple of pages and an exercise explicitly designed to expose students’ personal beliefs on the issue and, for those who are identified as holding beliefs against abortion, it tries to weaken their resolve. In question three, it misleads students as the wording attempts to equate using contraceptives with abstinence in reducing pregnancy risk:

1. What is your view on abortion?
2. Are there certain circumstances when you think abortion might be justified? Explain your answer.
3. How would practicing abstinence or using reliable contraception reduce the need for abortions?”
–Lesson 2 Concerns About Sexuality, GLENCOE Education in Sexuality, Chapter 6:  Issues of Sexuality, pg 96 (1999)

mother and child

Life is a gift from God

The so called Third View endorses abortion without addressing the alternative of adoption and its benefits. It ignores factual information on the risk to the physical health and life of the woman undergoing an abortion.

Inclusion of the phrase “if certain severe birth defects are confirmed” as a legitimate reason to support abortion in “special cases” becomes an open door to the idea that unborn babies who are determined to have some sort of physical or mental “defect” are somehow less entitled to live their lives than those individuals who are deemed “normal” by society. I believe this teaching is, by design, intended to undermine the beliefs of Pro-Life students who believe abortion is wrong, by slipping a seed of doubt into their minds… by way of suggesting it could be justified in certain situations.

The Third View notion that these abortions are only being performed in cases of “severe birth defects” is far from accurate as it is clearly outdated. Since this book was first published in 1987, and even it’s more recent update in 1999, the science of gene mapping has progressed far beyond just identifying “severe birth defects” through in utero, prenatal testing to now include literally thousands of conditions, many resulting in milder or even no disabilities at all.

What is not explained in the GLENCOE textbook is how often, when abortions are performed due to the discovery of some sort of birth defect in the unborn child, it occurs in the second – or even third trimester of the pregnancy to infants who could be considered viable, if given the opportunity to live. This is commonly referred to as a partial-birth abortion. Instead, the focus of this high school textbook is targeted to promote a woman-centered justification for abortion, while ignoring the brutal reality inflicted upon the unborn child.

If the student adopts the belief it is OK to abort so-called “defective” babies from the womb, as the Third View clearly suggests, their thinking is on the slippery slope to accepting a suggestion it is also OK deny these infants and individuals food, water or medical attention after they are born… or even go as far as to euthanize them as though they were unwanted stray dogs. You see, that’s the trouble with the slippery slope. Just like the Serpent in the Garden of Eden poisoned Eve’s mind until she was convinced to take just one bite of the forbidden fruit, when cleverly deceptive persuasion – and perhaps some classroom peer pressure – are allowed to weaken moral beliefs by swaying young people’s thinking on the issue, inclusion of the Third View “seed” in public school sex-ed curriculums has found fertile ground and accomplished its evil goal.

The so-called Third View is dangerous because it dehumanizes people.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”–Jeremiah 1:5 (God’s Word Translation)

“Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be revealed in him.”–John 9:3 (International Standard Version)

When a child is identified with a physical or mental challenge, some people wrongly want to assign blame. It is those who, by their own lack of understanding, prejudices, biases, fears and arrogance, brutishly view mentally or physically challenged individuals as inferior.

God doesn’t make mistakes. He is all knowing and perfect. We may not understand the reason why some are born facing lifelong challenges, but must trust that God creates each and every person for a purpose. As His children, He values each of us equally. We must learn to do the same.

The Third View condones and exploits discrimination against special needs people, advancing the cruel belief they are less entitled to live their God-given life. We must remember Planned Parenthood is the driving force behind comprehensive sex-ed in the public schools… the same Planned Parenthood who is the single largest abortion provider in the nation… and who stands to gain financially if they convince young people it’s OK to condemn to death unborn babies viewed as less than “perfect”.

I do not believe the morality discussion related to abortion belongs in public school classrooms. That is, unless students are presented with the whole truth about abortion. Factual, medically accurate information which includes: photographic evidence of the baby’s developmental stages in the womb; exactly what happens to the child during an abortion; photographs of aborted babies; immediate and long-term medical and psychological risks to the mother’s health caused by the abortion, including the risk of death. Without this material to ensure a balanced handling of this controversial issue, we are doing a great disservice to students.

Inclusion of this Third View – whether through the GLENCOE book or another source – in a school district’s curriculum clearly creates a bias against children with disabilities by justifying the false belief their lives are somehow less valuable than so-called “normal” people. It demeans special needs people to the status of second class citizens – while sending the message it is acceptable to play God and deny these unborn children LIFE.

Wisconsin’s Human Growth and Development (HG&D) law clearly states schools “cannot use instructional materials that promote bias against… children with disabilities”. Wouldn’t a classroom discussion encompassing the belief that unborn children with disabilities can simply be disposed of by denying them life – in and of itself- create a bias against these very individuals? This is unacceptable and, I believe, is a clear violation of the non-discrimination clause emphasized within state statutes pertaining to Human Growth and Development instruction.

Aside from this, it is my belief high school students lack the maturity and understanding to discuss and comprehend the ramifications of this issue, especially when presented almost exclusively from the pro-Planned Parenthood viewpoint. This is indoctrination. Furthermore, the Third View could cause some impressionable students, particularly those who may not have a family background firmly rooted in faith, to adopt a dangerous, discriminatory view of physically or mentally challenged people being somehow less worthy of life.

Whatever became of teaching children to respect others? …To care for and protect those who cannot do so for themselves? …To value LIFE? …To live according to God’s command:  “Never murder” (God’s Word Translation).

Where is our society and our country headed?

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”–Luke 6:31 (New International Version)

Precious in His Sight

Jesus loves the little children; All the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white they are Precious in His Sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world. 

Remember that old Sunday school song? In the simplest of terms, which even a child can understand, it conveys the wonderful message that God loves ALL children… even if they may be considered “imperfect” by society’s standards.

God has a plan for each and every person’s life. God is perfect. He doesn’t make mistakes.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. –Psalm 139:13-16 (New Living Translation)

Each and every one of us are created for a purpose… even if – and especially if, in society’s eyes, the person may be viewed as “imperfect”.

What do exceptionally challenged children, genetic research and the so-called “third view” have in common? Listen and find out.