The NAEP scores are out. Rather than hearing a constructive conversation about the complicated factors that have contributed to a national decline in reading and math scores for 4th and 8th grades, I’m hearing a chorus of voices—from Secretary Duncan to Michael Petrilli—who are placing blame. They’re blaming my kid, and all other kids with disabilities in this country, as contributing factors to the decline in reading and math scores across the country.
I’m tired of society blaming my child because they have failed to fulfill their federal obligation to provide him with an appropriate education. Blaming kids with disabilities, or English language learners, or kids living in poverty, or any other group, for the decline in test scores is scape-goating in its most basic form.
When test scores reflect the full diversity of the student population in our country we get a clearer, more complete picture of how we are educating the nation. Let’s shift the conversation to what is required to better meet the educational needs of our most vulnerable kids. Let’s instead talk about the value of every child having access to a curriculum that is aligned to standards and supporting ongoing improvements in teacher quality. Let’s stand firmly on the evidence that proves that when kids with disabilities are given genuine access to the same curriculum as their non-disabled peers achievement for ALL children improves. Let’s instead talk about supporting students so they can fully participate in the general education curriculum with the supports and services they need. Let’s instead talk about presuming that every single child—regardless of his individual circumstances—has the competence to learn and be successful.
Don’t blame my kid—educate him.
For additional information about participation rates for students with disabilities, read this great blog published by the Advocacy Institute.