Questions 'waging war' on our public education

To the Editor:

On Common Core letters, I didn't want to enter the conversation, but the letter by Dr. Gary Thompson (no relation) nixed it for me.

Dr. Thompson is a doctor from Utah with a special-needs daughter who feels he has been personally attacked.

I did not see anything personal in Ecton Manning's letter (Spectrum, Aug. 8) but, if anyone felt there was, hopefully Mr. Manning's public apology suffices to put that matter to rest.

I am blessed with a child who does not have learning or emotional disabilities and she is very special to me.

She went to our local New Milford schools to be educated by trained professional teachers and administrators. We trusted them to provide a quality education and encouraged her to work hard and were not disappointed.

We also accepted the fact special-needs children required a disproportionate amount of resources that reduced the amount of resouces available for our child and children like her.

We did not like this but accepted it as a policy determined by highly trained professionals with expertise in the field.

Although my intuition and unprofessional opinion is that mainstreaming special-needs children costs taxpayers and takes scarce resources away from our most talented children, I accept the policy and defer to the multitude of highly trained and specialized professionals who have devoted their lives and careers researching this particular field of education and reserve my opinion for discussions with friends over a beer, and apparently letters to The Spectrum.

The problem I have is the beneficiaries of special-needs education seem to be waging a legal war on the very system trying to help them.

It does not make sense to me that we must allocate disproportionate resources to specific classes of children with certain special needs and then not be able to test those children for the very issues those resources are being allocated to address.

Frankly, I have no problem with my child being tested for attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes and intra-personal resources and wonder why someone would devote time and money to challenge those standards.

Aren't these some of the areas that would help a person be successful in the real world? Without the data on a child's skill level, how can we help them compete in an ever-challenging global marketplace?

I understand the information from those tests may be used to categorize children in certain classes and parents might want to protect their children from that. But what about the rights of everyone else?

If your child has higher reading, writing and arithmetic scores than my child, I can't challenge a prospective college's right to evaluate that information in determining who is accepted.

So why can't a child's other skill sets be made available for evaluation?

I believe the public education system is a right and not a privilege and everyone should have the same rights as everyone else.

When our educational system becomes the target of costly litigation to protect a privileged class, then we are all at risk.

I do not have the expertise to testify before legislatures and file lawsuits or the will to demand extra services for my child.

But I do have a voice and I am raising it to say we are very fortunate to have a public educational system for everyone, and my hope is it is not destroyed by a few with a narrow agenda.

Having said all that, I do try to be a good and kind person and understand how hard it must be to have a cherished and loved child with special needs the parents feel are not being addressed.

I take my civic responsibility to share in providing for all those in need in my community very seriously.

L. Roy Thompson

New Milford