Alaska Republican: “We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education.”

While I don’t typically blog a lot about Alaskan politics, this entry from Mudflats caught my eye as something worth bringing up for discussion.

As was reported by Mudflats, a few weeks ago the Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum, and the debate participants were the two Republicans who will square off in the August 28 primary for Alaska’s State House – Lynn Gattis and Mark Ewing. According to the account from Mudflats, the candidate forum was rather uneventful until Ewing cited education as one of the state’s problems, as he explained:

“I got to be honest with you, I am not in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act,” Ewing said. “We are spending millions and millions of dollars educating children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move and, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to say, ‘no’ somewhere. We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education.”

I’ve read similar statements from at least one conservative commenter on a local Cudahy blog, so it’s a safe bet that this mentality is more pervasive among conservatives than they’re probably willing to admit.

The flaw in the argument that some children aren’t worth educating is in how those children are viewed by lawmakers. Instead of being viewed as human beings with potential and room to grow (if channeled properly), too often children with special needs are viewed as being less deserving of an education and nothing more than a line item to be cut when it comes time to balance a budget.

As the parent of an autistic child, I know that any money spent educating my child is an investment; not an unnecessary or unwarranted expense.


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9 thoughts on “Alaska Republican: “We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education.”

  1. Of all the obtuse and insensible dispositions Conservatives express, this one really elicits a stabbing pain at the soul. Ewing’s inhumanity startles, it unnerves, it discomposes every molecule of unconditional human amity that inhabits the conscience.

    The boon nestled in Ewing’s odium lies in the certainty of his attitude. We know where he stands – as contemptible a stance as it is.

  2. Anyone who has a child with downs syndrome, autism, dyslexia or any other disability understands the value of early and intense intervention.

    What’s next Herr Ewing?

    1. True, CJMcD – and this isn’t a challenge to your point, but does one need to be the parent of a child with special needs to recognize what seems to me to be so painfully obvious? Has this society grown so incapable of abstract thought that one’s personal orbit is the limit of one’s intellectual or emotional reach? Do we want the world view indicated by contemporary Conservatism, a perspective so cynical to be completely devoid of compassion and empathy? To me, the insensitivity embedded in a comment like Ewing’s is truly hurtful. What strikes me is how Ewing’s remarks and the one made by Steve King speak to the toxic insularity of the Conservative mind: “It doesn’t impact me, so it doesn’t exist” – “I don’t see it so I don’t acknowledge it” – the categorical absence of empathy absolutely astounds me. Perhaps it’s the subsequence that galls me. Responsible decision making is rendered entirely impossible with such a mindset. I surmise then that for the Conservative, limited government entails limiting human potential. Again, CJ, I’m not disagreeing with you; I’m just unendingly appalled, and I guess I’ve gone on a rant.

  3. PJ- Your thoughts reflect my own. My extended family and I have had the good fortune to not personally be impacted. Yet, as you so elloquently stated, one doesn’t need to be the parent or family member of a child with special needs to recognize what is so painfully obvious. I, too am unendingly appalled. I wish I had stated it much more clearly.

  4. With every day, I see only more evidence — with an autistic relative in our family, too — that there are more high-functioning people with autism than there are high-functioning members of Congress and state legislatures.

    He also would have written off one of my children, with a chronic health condition that required meds that greatly affected her academic abilities. She made it through high school, barely, but kept hitting the meds wall in college, again and again.

    Finally, she was able to go off the meds. She went back to college — a much more prestigious but supportive private college — and graduated with honors a few months ago.

    Next week, she starts her career as a kindergarten-elementary (combined) teacher. And you can bet that she is not going to give up on any kid, not a one.

  5. I had three good friends during my kids’ elementary school days who had to fight constantly to get help for their kids. One had a special needs kid, one had an ADD kid and one had a gifted but learning disabled kid. The reason they had to fight was because in those days the way districts saved money on these kids was by adhering strictly to designation criteria – if the kid didn’t slot into the pre-determined specifications, they didn’t get help, although it was always suggested that they were welcome to pay their own way. So, you had a bunch of square pegs who couldn’t fit into the round holes of ‘normal’ kids, then couldn’t get help because they couldn’t fit into the square pegs of ‘other’ kids.
    One thing that bears mentioning, by the way – having these kids in class or in school teaches compassion. I’ve seen it, from elementary through high school.
    So it’s been going on a long time, it’s just out in the open now. Several years ago a woman in my district ran for school board on the platform that we were spending too much on special needs kids and lost. Not surprisingly, she won easily a couple of years ago and is now a school board member.

  6. What happen to Sarah Palin, the esteemed Gov of Alaska, who said on the campaign trail that she would be the voice for individuals with disabilities? Not even in her home state, disgusting. Being a parent and an advocate for my son, I can tell you that individuals with disabilities will be tax payers some day. They want to be contributing members of their local community, not holed up in some state institution or in a sheltered workshop. I can go on and on about this, I will have a write a blog on this today

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