Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Starr Forgot to Mention Students with Disabilities in "State of the Schools"

An open letter to Superintendent Starr:

Dear Dr. Starr:

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the State of The Schools speech this morning; however, I did read it online this evening.

I just can't understand why you, as a former special educator, did not once mention students with disabilities or special education in your 30 minute, 9 page speech.

I saw that you talked about everyone else, though: minority students, immigrants, gifted students, AP students, Intel Science Scholars, the gap between White and Asian and Black and Hispanic students....and your employees.

But you forgot to mention the 12% of the students in MCPS who have a disability.

I was surprised, so I "searched" your speech for the words "disability" "disabilities" and "special." They were not there.

Did you omit mentioning these students because they don't fit with the image that Montgomery County Public Schools is trying to project? Or because they are so low on your list of priorities that you didn't even remember to mention them in your "state of the schools?" Or because your "leadership team" has a disdain for these children?

Not everyone is going to college. Youngsters with autism and intellectual disabilities deserve the same kind of commitment to a high quality education that you espouse for everyone else. And talk about "educational debt"...it is only in my lifetime that kids like mine were even given the right to GO to school.

One out of every 9 students in MCPS has an educational disability. You are the superintendent of all students. You should have told us your vision for the kids who aren't going to college, or the kids whose challenge to just walk out the front door every morning takes more strength and courage than you would ever know.

I know you are coming to the Advisory Committee in two weeks. It's easy to "preach to the choir." You should have told everyone else about the importance of educating our children with disabilities.

Lyda Astrove
Rockville, MD

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