Record Number of Disabled Students Graduating, No Thanks to Republicans

More special education students are receiving diplomas and fewer are dropping out of school, says an†annual†report from the†2012 Disability Statistics Compendium.

These gains for students with disabilities underscore the importance of the†Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that requires that school districts provide all children with disabilities with a “free and appropriate” public education. Just three decades ago, families had to rely on their own resources to educate children with disabilities who “would have been isolated in separate institutions or simply kept at home, with little or no chance of ever becoming independent, productive, taxpaying citizens,” says the†National Education Association.

IDEA means that local governments and states do not have the last word on what a child with disabilities needs. Without IDEA,††my teenage son Charlie, who is on the severer end of the autism spectrum, would never have attended †public schools and would probably have been packed off to an institution before he was ten years old. IDEA’s success†is apparent in a†2 percent increase in the number of U.S. students with disabilities — over 250,000 — graduating with diplomas in 2009 – 2010 and the†dropout rate for students with disabilities falling by 1.4 percent.

Republican Extremists Block Ratification of U.N. Treaty on Disability Rights

For these reasons, I was disgusted that†Republican senators voted against ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on the grounds that doing so would compromise U.S. sovereignty and trample on the rights of parents to decide what is best (home schooling was specifically mentioned) for their children.†Failed Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum did his best to prevent ratification of the treaty by claiming, quite melodramatically, that it would have called for the forced abortion of his daughter, Bella, because she has a rare genetic disorder.

Actually, not only does the U.N. treaty (which 126 countries around the world have ratified)†call for a better standard of living and more community access for people with disabilities everywhere, thereby attempting to bring the world under the high standards of the U.S. landmark civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act. The treaty also mandates against the involuntary sterilization of individuals with disabilities and “clearly articulates that free and informed consent should be the basis for providing health care to persons with disabilities.”

Former Republican Senator Bob Dole, who is 89 years old and a veteran and uses a wheelchair,†went on the floor of the Senate on December 4 to urge his former colleagues to vote for it. But after he was wheeled out, “all but a handful of the Republicans bailed out on him,” with only eight voting yes so the treaty failed to gain a two-third majority to pass.†Said Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

This is one of the saddest days Iíve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate, and it needs to be a wake-up call about a broken institution thatís letting down the American people.

Today the dysfunction hurt veterans and the disabled, and thatís unacceptable.

More than 300 disability organizations had joined together to urge senators to vote for the treaty.

If legislation like IDEA, ensuring that students with disabilities have the right to a public education, was put before Congress today, I have a feeling that Republican extremists would hijack the vote and defeat it — and then, you can be sure, we wouldn’t be celebrating growing numbers of special ed students receiving diplomas and moving on to lives as†working, independent and productive U.S. citizens.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Autistic People Feel “Too Much,” But Can Therapy Actually Help?

Aspergerís Teen Forced to Live in Dark Basement

Rick Santorum Takes On The Disabled

 

Photo by Gage Skidmore

70 comments

Mary Hale
Mary Hale3 years ago

I can understand why the GOP doesn't want women or minorities to vote. They want to win and will be lost unless they change from the far right, and tea party. Too bad boys you have lost.

Amber Martingale
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

Kathy K., you said "No social gain is thanks to Republicans. If they could, they'd go back to only rich white men having a full vote, minorities only having a partial vote, and women not able to vote at all," and you're probably right. With one exception: Senator Kerry and the eight Repub;icans who DID vote to ratify the treaty. All nine of these men are heroes!

Diane B.
Diane B.3 years ago

Good news!

Jane Mckenzie
Jane Mckenzie3 years ago

noted

Kathy K.
Kathy K.3 years ago

No social gain is thanks to Republicans. If they could, they'd go back to only rich white men having a full vote, minorities only having a partial vote, and women not able to vote at all.

Leia P.
Leia P.3 years ago

awesome

Patricia H.
Patricia H.3 years ago

good news

Kamryn M.
Kay M.3 years ago

yay.

Beth M.
Beth M.3 years ago

This is good news!

Penny C.
Penny C.3 years ago

Thank you for this.