As we quickly approach the end of 2016, and the next Presidential inauguration in January 2017, those of us who have been protecting the educational and civil rights of students with disabilities already thought this effort was daunting, but now many of us are looking ahead at 2017 through 2021 in absolute horror. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse.
In part, we are floored by the reality that someone actively manifesting the symptoms of a personality disorder has been elected into the office of President of the United States. Based on our country’s voting behaviors, half the American public is made up of people who lack adult-level reasoning and perspective-taking abilities; that is, con artists and their regular victims.
On one hand, this could be viewed as a victory for those of us who seek to support and facilitate the integration and inclusion of those challenged by serious mental illness into mainstream society. However, even if we want to dress up this situation as a victory for the mentally ill, it’s going to take the rest of us to keep the current administration from running the ship of democracy onto a rocky reef, thereby ripping open its hull and dissipating our hard-earned freedoms into a sea of melodrama and destruction. We have all suddenly been forced to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, if for no other reason than damage control.
Personality disorders and developmental delays in social-emotional functioning have taken center stage in this last election and will continue to do so once the newly elected and appointed are sworn in. Impairments in judgment, deductive reasoning, and emotional stability – in other words, the symptoms of significant handicapping conditions – are posing a direct threat to the programs and services that help people with disabilities function in their communities with as much independence as possible. I keep hearing Morpheus from The Matrix in my head saying, “Fate, it would seem, is not without a sense of irony.”
Let’s be clear. Our students have no allies among the incoming executive, legislative, and judicial elected officials and their proposed appointees. These individuals intend to gut all of public education, including special education and related federally funded programs, so they can privatize education to line their own pockets even more than they already have by redirecting tax dollars into their privately owned companies and those of their cronies.
The incoming powers to be will attempt to make fiscal arguments to eliminate federal funding for special education and related programs for the disabled, but it will all be lies. There is no credible argument to justify eliminating publicly funded special education services. Doing so will only leave children with special needs to grow up into unemployable adults who will have to rely on the rest of us to survive. It will create a burden of time, money, and psychic will on family members who must also hold down jobs. It will increase the dangers that untreated disabilities can cause to those who have them and their communities.
I’d prefer for children with special needs to grow up to become contributors and taxpayers along with the rest of us as much as possible. There is no good reason to cripple them with the consequences of induced dependency and burden the taxpaying public with the expenses of doing so. The only real fiscal motivation, here, is to pull taxpayer resources away from the public education system and push them into for-profit entities operated by the incoming powers to be. That approach is harmful to children, families, and communities, plain and simple. It will push more people who could have been supported successfully in the community into costlier residential programs at public expense or, worse, homelessness.
The newfangled term “alt-right” was coined by one of its own practitioners and should not be given any real weight as a politically correct way to describe his reprehensible behaviors and those of his followers, however I find it useful as a short handle for “disenfranchised mentally disordered white people with a false sense of entitlement and those who linger at their feet for the crumbs they toss to the ground.” So, when you see me using the term “alt-right” throughout this post, understand that it’s a pronoun, not a validation of any point of view.
That said, understand that I’ve been dealing with “alt-right” behaviors my entire career. And, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not a just a touch miffed that I’ve been doing this work for more than 25 years while people looked at me sideways saying, “You do what for a living? I don’t understand,” right before they glazed over and walked away. Now, all of a sudden, they get it when I say I’ve been up against the “Donald Trumps” of public education all this time. I finally have a visible example I can point to of the kind of moronic decision-making I’ve witnessed in publicly funded special education since 1991.
No one can glaze over and walk away anymore. The incoming executive, legislative, and judicial powers to be are collectively the current generational cohort’s version of the Cold War.
I’m old enough to remember the Cold War. People were constantly living in fear of getting nuked because other people who didn’t understand each other had access to nuclear weapons and weren’t getting along, holding the rest of the world hostage while they negotiated and threatened each other. The whole thing was cortisol-increasingly tense for years before finally ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, but it realistically could have gone either way. We didn’t dodge a bullet; we dodged nuclear annihilation.
If I use the Cold War as an example, recent history would suggest that we are capable of surviving the next four years and ultimately learning some powerful lessons from the experience that will prompt us to make better decisions. Really, if we can just get through the next two years, we’ll have an opportunity to vote in new members of Congress and there will be plenty of motivation on the part of everyone with intact mental development to do the right thing.
So, what do we do for now? The same thing we’ve always done. None of the laws are changed, at least not yet. The rules are still legally enforceable. There is a universe of lower courts and regulatory agencies that have been creaking along this whole time, dealing with the consequences of discrimination against the disabled. Not that these mechanisms work terribly well. Many publicly funded agencies will not live up to the most basic aspects of their mandates without a court order, forcing families to litigate just to get whatever they can from agencies promised by law to offer them much more.
None of this is new. That we now see it on a national level with the incoming powers to be only means that everybody else who didn’t understand what we are going through is now going to go through it with us. Now is our chance to teach by example and show everybody else how to handle the self-serving bullies within the system. Those of us who already know how to survive swimming with sharks need to share our knowledge with everybody else. We will be appreciated for what we do when our skills are necessary to the survival of the majority, and now they are.
Until the right to due process ceases to exist, we need to exercise it prudently and strategically to prevent the dumbing down of America from becoming the next right wing trickle-down theory to be tested from the White House. America is clearly already dumb enough and the need for quality public education for all has never been more dire. The platform of the right wing promotes less federal involvement and more local control, so those of us with our wits intact need to actively participate in local control. This includes looking out for our less capable brothers and sisters so they don’t feel compelled to “buy a lottery ticket” with their votes in the hope that the con artists will solve their problems.
With our President-elect already advocating for controlling our access to the internet (e.g., censorship) to allegedly prevent terrorists (e.g., anybody who doesn’t agree with him) from recruiting supporters, as well as stripping people of their Constitutional freedoms for exercising their First Amendment rights, we have to view his Presidency as a true threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Congress and the Supreme Court are either going to facilitate our loss of freedoms or enforce our freedoms, depending on how we as a citizenry approach each issue and make use of the lower courts. Litigation is going to be big business over the next four years, but it isn’t cheap and somebody, usually the victim, ends up footing the tab.
In the current school year, I have already witnessed the “alt-right” individuals employed within the public education system become further emboldened to engage in discrimination on the basis of handicapping condition and not even try to cover up their motivations. If anything, the 2016 election has led them to believe that they live in a consequence-free environment; they see the President-elect as a mirror of themselves and think they are equally untouchable.
Because these individuals don’t have intact adult-level problem-solving skills and are egocentric in thought, they act on their own wants and needs without regard for anyone else. Like our President-elect, they are unable to see anyone else’s point of view because they can’t conceptualize the rest of us as anything other than exploitable objects moving in orbit around them just waiting to be utilized to their ends. The words coming out of their mouths are just topological features of a larger overall behavior and cannot be taken as legitimate attempts at conversation.
You can shut down hystrionics with facts and direct questions that require only a “yes” or “no” answer. Asking an open-ended question is just asking for a load of bull, so don’t, unless you’re trying to make the record that they’re full of bull that you can later pick apart against the facts and the law in some way. Often times, as soon as they realize that you’ve got them dead to rights on an issue of fact and/or law, they won’t be willing to push the issue in front of a judge because they don’t want to be exposed as liars. Unless, of course, they’re entirely out of touch with reality and think they can just make stuff up and everybody is going to believe them even when confronted with irrefutable evidence that is applied appropriately against the law.
Of course, we now have Trump surrogates asserting in the news that there are no such things as facts. I wish I could say that surprises me, but this is what happens when a fleet of personality disordered people get together and act collectively according to their symptomatology. Their poor underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes just cannot see why denying the existence of facts costs them credibility. They’ve said it with an authoritative tone of voice, and that’s the important thing in their minds.
It’s more important to them to go through the motions and sound like they know what they are talking about, which they can often do well, but the actual words coming out of their mouths often make no sense whatsoever. They are modeling their behaviors after those of people who actually know what they are talking about, but because their reasoning and thought processes aren’t that sophisticated, the most they master are the superficial behaviors of authoritative speech, not actual knowledge and understanding.
Such is the nature of a personality disorder. If you feel foggy and confused when you speak to them, step away; you’re literally slipping into a hypnotic state and they are working you over with the power of suggestion. Again, their words are just topological features of a larger behavior, not a legitimate attempt at discussion. You have permission to not listen to a word they say, watch them waving their hands and bugging their eyes out, and just see it all for what it is. It’s the same behavior as a little girl blaming her stuffed animals for making a mess and eating all the cookies, and thinking you’re going to believe her. Stop paying attention to what the behavior looks like and start looking for it’s function; what are they trying to make happen or prevent from happening? That’s your real issue. Stick to the facts and don’t give them opportunities to “explain.”
As we move into 2017, KPS4Parents has a lot of projects on the horizon and anticipates that our workload is only going to get heavier. While we are encouraged to see that organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center are getting donations to combat current and near-future injustices, please don’t forget about smaller non-profits like us who have been fighting to protect the rights of learners with disabilities since we first opened our doors and will continue to do so for so long as we are able. We need your financial support now more than ever!
The students with disabilities who are most likely to be targeted by the incoming powers to be will be those who are also of color, particularly those from single-parent and/or low-income households. These are the families who are least likely to have the financial resources to pay for competent representation. Your donations are needed to help us protect these children and keep them from becoming even more involved with “the system.” Children with special needs who do not receive appropriate services in childhood are more likely to end up in prison, institutionalized, and/or welfare dependent for the rest of their lives, all at taxpayer expense and with little hope of them ever becoming independent.
Every little bit helps. Please be a part of protecting the educational and civil rights of students challenged by disabilities by donating to KPS4Parents via the PayPal button below. Or, you can mail a check to the address on our Contact Us page.
KPS4Parents is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, tax ID 65-1195513. All donations are tax-deductible.
As grueling as the next year is shaping up to be, we were already working on projects to make the world a better place and nothing is going to stop us from continuing that work. With your financial support, we can fight discrimination and build stronger communities through stronger, appropriately educated citizens. Donate before December 31 to get your tax credit for the current year. We appreciate all that you do and look forward to cleaning up this mess with you over the next four years.
Peace and holiday blessings,
Anne M. Zachry, M.A. Ed. Psych., CEO – KPS4Parents, Inc.