And Just Like That…

Virginia has a new Republican governor. That may turn out to be fine…. or not. In the past 60 years that I have been a Virginia resident, I have been: a student, a homeowner, a parent of a son in K-12 and then GMU, a writer, an editor, a business owner, a community volunteer, a substitute teacher and an advocate for people with disabilities, including for my brother who was born in 1958 with profound cerebral palsy.

My overall feelings are that, while there was always room for improvement, Virginia has been slowly – sometimes excruciatingly so – coming along in its ability to serve the Disability Committee, including of course, our kids and family members.

And in the past 20 years that I have been involved in this Disability Resource that I call Celebrating All Abilities, Virginia has had four Democratic governors and one Republican; and, because I’m an incrementalist, the recent progress seemed to me to be accelerating. Maybe this is a coincidence, maybe not.

But this latest governor has jumped right in with both feet to keep his campaign promises. Again, we’ll know in the long run if it turns out okay. But I have my doubts.

Writing the newsletter this month has been like dancing on the head of a pin, trying to balance seemingly contradictory ideas. We need to support our teachers and we need to hold them accountable. The two are not mutually exclusive. Can a tipline possibly be a reasonable solution? We want to keep our children safe and in the classroom. We should maybe also want recognize the rights of all parents because we’ve been working for so long for the community at-large to recognize our own parental rights. We’re seeing that parents who previously pulled away from public schools now seem to be intent on remaking public schools with their specific narrow ideology. Could homeschooling collectives or collaboratives become a viable option for our kids?

My current primary concern is that, after the new governor takes his legislative sledgehammer to the “divisive” issues about which some parents are extremely vocal, he’ll turn his attention to our kids. Someone may say that having our children around is “divisive” and will make their kid “uncomfortable.” I’m shaking as I write these words, but I think it’s necessary to confront these issues as best we can. To that end, I say that we must continue to remain positive and supportive and document every interaction that may, at some point, affect our community. I plan to track legislation; as a start, please see page 5 for a Bill submitted by Rep. William Wren to amend the Code of Virginia by
adding 22.1-208.03, relating to public elementary and secondary schools; student citizenship skills; certain instructional policies prohibited; parental rights; disclosures; penalties; other remedies. Gotta say, Wren could use an editor for clarity and length. But dude also needs a history lesson; Abraham Lincoln did not debate Frederick Douglass; he debated Stephen Douglas.
Stay strong, stay safe, and see you in the spring

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