Column: Special education in Texas

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By BRET WOOTEN
Special contributor

I pray that none of you know what it feels like to stand in front of a mirror, face drenched in tears, fist and teeth clenched, glaring at yourself till you let out, “Why are you so dumb?!”

Now imagine you are 8 struggling in school with an undiagnosed disability, agonizing each time you are forced to put pen to paper or read out loud and always being the last one to finish every test as the rest of the kids stare at you with anger as you hold the class up from going to recess.

Well, I know that feeling all too well.

Those days left a scar that I will never let fade. That scar reminds me how fortunate I was to have a team of professional educators work to find the source of my struggles and got me the help I needed.

So when the Houston Chronicle found Texas reported special education programs participation had dropped to a new low of 8.5 percent, my jaw dropped and that scar burned with a fury. That is the lowest participation rate in the nation about, 4.5 percent below the national average, KERA reports.

At first, 4.5 percent doesn’t sound like a lot. That is one quarter of a million Texan children tied in knots and collapsing in on themselves. That’s more than the student population of Dallas and Austin combined.

I’m sure at this point you are asking, “Why?” Well, it is simply due to an arbitrary, punitive system put in place to manage numbers instead of helping children.

Texans are good people to their core, willing to lend a hand wherever one is needed. They have an instinctive sense of right and wrong. That is how I know that if you saw a child standing beside the road crying for help, you would see lines of people pulling over to embrace that child without hesitation.

That is why I find it hard to believe that Texans could casually drive by 250,000 children crying for help. That would be a line of kids standing side–by–side 118 miles long.
No true Texan could do that. So Texans, what are you going to do?