Friday, January 25, 2013

Down This Road

Today it was announced that new Federal mandates will require public schools to open all athletic programs to students with disabilities. On the surface this is an equality issue. In action what will happen is that parents and lawyers will use this new bully stick to intimidate schools into allowing their kids on teams even if they do not qualify for a position.For example, ADHD is technically a disability. So by that rule a student with this condition must be given inordinate access to programs even when their condition is detrimental to other students and to the program at large. Would any coach under the threat of lawsuit dare not allow a student to play? Not in this day and age.

 I have no quarrel with the various surrogates trotted out to present this action. A wrestler can certainly compete though blind and deafness is certainly not a hurdle to most sports. But when the Feds start requiring action, parents and lawyers begin to angle for more for their children.Can a lawsuit claiming discrimination for failing to allow someone on a varsity team for reasons as innocuous as mild reading challenges be far behind?  For those who doubt this will happen consider what happened with Title IX. Schools, including universities like SMU, had to rid themselves of successful programs in order to balance the books. With even more demand for athletics for men than women, women get the same amount. That's antithetical to supply and demand, but the Law doesn't care. With even more limited funding, the pie is smaller now. Dividing that up more to make it safe and feasible for a seriously disabled student to be on a team is opening up the door for the dissolution of many programs. All it will take is one serious accident involving a disabled student, and athletics will be removed from the schools.

Once upon a time schools existed for the education of the majority of children. Now it appears that education is to be portioned out based on some formula that is based on the nebulous boundaries of "fairness" rather than appropriateness or even need. While all students, even the so called typical ones, should be allowed to progress to the level of their potential, when you artificially impose such rules on schools or teams or even businesses, you set up a situation where legal abuse will be rampant. If you doubt that, consider the amount of angst and intimidation that exists in regards to special education in the core classes right now. As a teacher, I feel like a hostage to a system in which I am expected to perform over and beyond my capabilities or face the very real threat of legal action.

No comments: