During the Campaign for America’s Future Awards Gala in October 2015 the President of the National Education Association (NEA), Lily Eskelsen Garcia, made the following statement:
“We diversify our curriculum instruction to meet the personal individual needs of all of our students the blind, the hearing impaired, the physically challenged, the gifted and talented, the chronically tarded and the medically annoying.”
AAPD condemns this statement and the disrespect it not only shows to students with disabilities, but all Americans with disabilities. As the nation’s largest labor union, representing over three million teachers, the NEA should know better than to insult students and must do more to be inclusive of all students. On the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is horribly unfortunate and sadly ironic that we must chastise the President of the NEA for her comments.
The NEA writes that their mission “is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.” Preparing every student to succeed in a diverse world undoubtedly includes students with disabilities.
“Like their non-disabled peers, students with disabilities have the right to a public education, as was intended 40 years ago today when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act — now Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — was signed into law,” said Helena Berger, President and CEO of AAPD. “AAPD joins our partners in the disability rights community in calling on the NEA to live up to their mission and values, helping to ensure children with disabilities have the opportunity to develop their talents, achieve their goals, and contribute to their communities.”
You can do your part to call out Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the NEA by making your voice heard on Twitter:
“Chronically ‘tarded & medically annoying” is neither progressive nor acceptable @NEAToday @Lily_NEA @OurFuture #UnacceptableExample
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.