Letter: Tests abusing La. special students

Considering the controversy over education, one subject not addressed is the treatment of special students. I don’t believe the public can be aware of the abuse being forced upon our special children by state Superintendent John White and his proponents. Yes, our special children are being abused by order of John White.

I am the mother of a 17-year-old autistic son who is severely mentally handicapped. I have known since he was in fourth grade that he would not graduate high school. He is in special classes with amazing teachers who are teaching him self-reliance and life skills.

The problem? By Louisiana law, he is being forced this year to take the ACT test. Why? So that John White can “average” his score and those of the other special students in with the scores of the regular education population in the public school that he attends, and artificially deflate the public school’s scores. Then White and Gov. Bobby Jindal can parade around the state and nation showing “data” that private, magnet and charter schools who refuse special populations are superior to the public schools, thereby advancing their political agenda to privatize education.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop with the ACT. These children are also being forced to take the EOC. or “end of course” tests for high school courses that they have never taken. Allow me to reiterate. They are forced to take high-stakes, final exams for classes in which they have never been enrolled because they cannot meet the prerequisites. This is ridiculous, but is it abuse? Yes!

Forcing any special child to sit for hours attempting tasks and struggling with information that is completely foreign to them raises their frustration level to the breaking point. These children are being set up for failure, and children with already-low self-esteem learn, once again, that they are failures — dummies — not good enough. My child has enough hurdles in this life! He has to hear daily that he is “retarded,” “weird” and “stupid” by the ignorant and the bullies. It is beyond reprehensible that the leaders of education in this state are the biggest bullies of them all.

Just to clarify, this is not a political statement. Jindal and White’s myopic focus on their agenda is sacrificing my child’s well-being. I want him to be treated fairly by the system mandated to educate him at his level. I want the public to be able to make decisions based on fact, not manipulated figures — to compare apples to apples. What is being done to my child in the name of politics is criminal, and the abuse of the public trust is immoral and scandalous. Compare apples to apples, and leave my orange alone!

Amy Waters

teacher/mother

Luling