Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The "Disability" Racket

subtitle: How schools cash in on false diagnoses and a bounty system.

"Thousands of children are suffering from being placed in LD classes, and the labeling of children at an early age becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The children learn to see themselves as disabled in some way and they act out the part." - Terry Endsley, The Myth of Learning Disabilities

I have several blind spots. I had them in school and still have them. For example: Algebra, Latin, History, Chemistry, Physics, Literature, and others. In some cases, it was the teachers who made the information seem uninteresting. My response was to create minor disturbances like fidgeting in my seat or throwing spitballs. In others, I simply did not seem intellectually suited to the subject. I was bored and not learning anything except how to avoid doing the work, and that was most of the time.

Today, a child's disinterest in school subjects is viewed by the schools as a "disability" --a kind of disease. And, sure enough, the schoolers have all sorts of ways to "prove" that a child has a disability -- even a brain disorder -- when s/he is merely bored or unhappy or simply rebellious at being cooped up in an ugly classroom. Parents who are not well informed can easily be frightened by the "diagnoses" that come from teachers and school psychologists nowadays. They are often intimidated by the school "experts" who claim that their child is "learning disabled" or "mentally disordered," when no such problem exists. Many children are labeled and stigmatized for life by "diagnoses" that are often wrongly made in order to benefit only the school, not the children.

Yet, this is the way the schools can place blame on the child and avoid being criticized for creating the boredom or for hiring dull teachers or employing failed methods. It's how they take the focus off the school's programs and place it upon the child's alleged "disability." How convenient for the schools. It provides the excuse to never examine themselves or their own activities to see if those might be causing the symptoms of unhappiness (boredom, stress, fear) and rebellion among the children.

Making matters worse is an incentive for the schools to make such a huge mistake. It's called the "Bounty System." For every child who is "diagnosed" with a so-called Learning Disorder, there is a large cash reward from the state. Thus, every diagnosis of a disability means more money for the school employees. Therefore, it is no wonder that the schoolers have invented a multitude of "diagnoses" that enable them to collect the bounty.

The second stage of this racket is that the children are then placed in "special" classes that pretend to help the children with their false diagnoses of disabilities. It's no surprise that along with the many spurious diagnoses has come a huge increase in school employment in this new area. It has been major cause of higher school budgets, but it has little, if any, success to show. After all, if there is no actual disease, there is no cure. The entire business is guesswork.

It's an example of the schools' finding ways to use the children for the benefit of the employees or building a larger payroll instead of benefiting the children. The schools never look to their own instruction methods or programs for the source of children's problems. Why? Because then they would have to admit that they use bad methods of instruction and would need to change, but mostly it is because there is no financial incentive. The bounty system only pays for diagnoses of children's disabilities (whether real or not). It doesn't pay for finding fault in the schools themselves or for finding students' strengths.

Schools have been turned into psychological clinics where amateur headshrinkers roam the halls in search of children they might be able to garner as "clients" for their dubious "therapies." For school teachers to play the role of amateur psychologist is against the law. Besides, education is a separate field from therapy. School students should never be treated as "patients," and yet, that's what the disability racket is all about.

If a school has diagnosed your child as "disabled," be sure to get a second opinion from an independent source because chances are good that the school wants to use your child to gain a financial bounty while increasing its payroll at taxpayers' expense.

Ned Vare is an architectural designer, former private school teacher and elected official. He is co-author (with his wife, Luz Shosie) of the book, Smarting Us Up (see sidebar)

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christinemm said...

Ned I've been thinking about our past conversation about 'schools running out of room'. If you have time could you write a post to describe what you told me, about room use, union rules and such?

I was just reading about how in Fairfield CT the elementary school is overcrowded, they say, and already using many temporary classrooms. Yet I was thinking too, of how Fairfield busses in students from Bridgeport to add more minority children to satisfy Connecticut's rules (?law) about each town having to maintain a certain percentage of minority children.

When we the public, the taxpayers, hear that the schools are overcrowded and 'they have no room' we often imagine each class being fully used all day long, but you were saying it was not true.

I'd love to hear more on that topic from you and I bet your blog readers would also.

Glad you are blogging. Your book's cover image in the sidebar looks great!

Ned Vare said...

I do not believe there is a law in CT that puts any requirement on schools regarding percentage of minority children. Make them show you the law. No such thing is evident in the Guilford schools, or Madison, far as I can see. What some law might say is that schools must be available for children to be bussed from other districts. In Guilford's case, there are no takers, apparently.