Author: Tracy Bono
Everyone thinks they are the good guy.
We are all operating on our own set of values, instincts, and information on which we base our motives and actions.
When I found out that my son’s school was not following his IEP, which is a federally legal binding document, and was denying him his ADA supported accommodations, I was confused. Upon the discovery that he was also being restrained and put in a seclusion room, I couldn’t believe it. I had assumed, as most parents do, that the staff and teachers would do what is best. They were also the “good guys”.
The truth is, the staff and teachers were not villains. What I believe now, is that they were doing what was easy and what was being supported by the system they were working in.
For the most part, most of us human beings set off with the best intentions. However, when we are advocating for change, most of us are only looking at how this change will benefit us.
I am working with the MO ACLU in supporting the following pieces of legislation:
- MISSOURI MUST LIMIT THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF OUT-OF-SCHOOL SUSPENSION DAYS FROM 180 TO 90 DAYS
- REVISE RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION POLICY
- ELIMINATE SUSPENSIONS FOR KINDERGARTEN THROUGH THIRD GRADE STUDENTS
- ENSURE A CHILD’S RIGHT TO COUNSEL
When we are advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities, we ask for others to listen. To open their minds, to consider a different point of view; to also support this proposed legislation. We ask them to respect us as worthy human beings deserving of the same rights and privileges. We ask for accommodations and supports.
Let us take this concept and turn it around for a moment. Do you turn off your listening when someone only understands their side of things? I do. Most of us do. We need to give to others what we want in return. We need to listen and understand.
It is only in using that approach will this movement make true progress.
Because this IS A MOVEMENT.
Prone restraint, seclusion, isolation, suspensions, and segregation. These are antiquated and barbaric practices in our schools that are harmful to children and disproportionately effect children with disabilities and children of color.
But guess what? They are harmful to those “typical” students as well. They are harmful to the teachers, staff, and therapists as well. Here is where we explain how this change, and these proposed laws, are going to benefit EVERYONE.
These methods cause more injuries to everyone; students, teachers, and staff. They increase the occurrence of undesirable behaviors and situations. When updated and humane methods, such as the Ukeru System, are implemented, workers compensation claims go down. Teachers, staff and students are free from injury.
These barbaric practices cheat “typical” students out of fulfilling relationships with peers. They teach these students to isolate and punish others that are different from them. Part of a quality education should be teaching children about acceptance, understanding and inclusion. This will cultivate social skills ensuring better success in our society in adulthood.
These harmful practices cause children to lose faith in their safety and trust with teachers and staff. There is a proven, direct correlation of these practices leading to future incarcerations. This is a loss to everyone. Not just the suffering of human beings, but the loss of tax dollars from the cost of incarceration and the loss of income and sales tax with these individuals being denied the opportunity to live fulfilling lives as productive members of our society.
We must focus on a way to help those in the system to realize this truth. For that is the only way we will succeed.
The truth is: we ARE all the “good guys”. We all want what is best for our children and for our society as a whole. This is what’s best: ELIMINATING prone restraint, isolation, and seclusion in our schools. We need to hold Congress accountable to their broken promise of funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). We need to support local and state legislation that holds schools accountable for denying students with disabilities and students of color their constitutional right to a free public education. We need to encourage schools to implement safe and effective, humane programs such as the Ukeru System. Schools need to be truly “trauma informed” by not creating in-house trauma.
I’m fighting with you. I’m fighting for my son. For what they did to him that forever hurt him. But I’m also fighting for you and for the children not yet in the system. And although they may not realize it, I’m fighting for all the typical children too. And the staff. And the teachers. I’m fighting for a better society for us all.
Please join this movement. Not because it is charitable, but because it is in your best interest.