Education

The Real Test of Education Policy

What happens when a profoundly unusual individual student runs up against a school system designed for "most" kids?

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Oddly Normal: One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality, by John Schwartz, Gotham, 304 pages, $26

John Schwartz and Jeanne Mixon knew that their third child, Joe, was off-the-charts intelligent: He had read through all the Harry Potter books before or during kindergarten. He was also learning disabled—unable, for example, to master the mechanics of basic handwriting. "There is," Schwartz writes in Oddly Normal, his engaging, informative memoir about his son, "an abbreviation for this: GT/LD, for 'gifted and talented/learning disabled.'"

Schwartz and Mixon also had a strong sense early on that Joe—flamboyantly girly from the moment he could talk—was gay. Even in an ideal world, raising a GT/LD kid who's also LGBT would be a challenge. But the New Jersey public-school system—like all school systems, even the most well-intentioned, well-funded, and well-designed ones—made it especially tough. Despite their school district's investment in therapists, highly trained teachers, and policies aimed at protecting and nurturing students who are a few sigmas out from the mean, Joe Schwartz found himself consistently misclassified and misdiagnosed by professional staff, and alienated from and bullied by some of his fellow students. The opening passage of Oddly Normal telegraphs the stark result: Joe, who had just come out as gay at age 13, attempted to kill himself with an overdose of the nonprescription drug Benadryl, apparently in response to other students' reactions to his revelation.

The subject of education is sufficiently fraught on the macro policy level (Should we privatize public schools? Add market incentives through vouchers? Support them through taxes at all? And what about homeschooling?) that it's easy to give short shrift to issues at the micro level, like what to do with an outlier kid. But just as the real test of civil liberties may be what happens when an individual citizen meets a bad policeman, the real test of education policy is what happens when a profoundly unusual individual student runs up against a school system designed for "most" kids.

There was no glib, easy answer for Schwartz, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Jeanne Mixon, a former state legislature staffer turned full-time mom. Because they already had two children in school in their New Jersey suburb, they couldn't move Joe to another public school somewhere else; for precisely the same reason (two other children) they couldn't afford to send Joe to a private school or to homeschool him. What they did instead was engage in a multi-year, wearying struggle to help Joe navigate the New Jersey public schools, all while supporting his emerging sexual identity and attempting to find out why this dizzyingly intelligent and creative child had deep, perhaps intractable problems—or at least find ways to help Joe cope with those problems. Their campaign was not so much to get the boy special treatment (although he did need some as a learning-disabled student) as to make sure he wasn't ground up by the system.

Full disclosure: I have known Schwartz for more than 35 years, and Mixon—formerly my high-school girlfriend—for 40. (I also know their two older children fairly well, but I know Joe only from this book. I appear briefly in the book's early pages.) I can attest that Schwartz is particularly well-positioned to write this book: He is both a veteran science reporter and a veteran legal reporter, and is thus able to cast Joe's story against a thoroughly presented background of both scientific research (sexual identity, cognitive development, drug therapies) and legal context (the evolving recognition of LGBT rights, legal attempts to deter school bullying). So while the personal narrative is affecting, it's Schwartz's journalism that makes Oddly Normal shine. If you have a school-age child who is special in any way—or, like Joe Schwartz, special in more than one way—you'll find that the book is packed with resources and references that you will want to have at hand.

Schwartz and Mixon have not been perfect parents, as they would be first to admit. When Joe attempts suicide, his parents didn't even have the small comfort of knowing they had consistently been supportive of their son's very-early-manifested sexual identity: "Jeanne had taken one precaution before the [kindergarten] school year began. 'I had quietly put all of the Barbies and their magnificent wardrobe away.' She worried that Joe would insist on taking his fashionable dolls to school for show and tell, and 'I didn't even want him talking to the other kids about Barbie and her fabulous wardrobe.'"

Schwartz and Mixon rightly recognized that "even kindergarten can be a tough room and that early labels stick," and they didn't want Joe (in Mixon's words) "making a mistake in kindergarten in a school where you were in the same building with the same children for six long years." But in retrospect, and in light of Joe's suicide attempt, Joe's parents have been rueful about a decision that may have communicated somehow to Joe that he had something to hide. In putting Joe's Barbies away, Schwartz writes, they "had built his first closet."

Still, I think most readers will agree that Schwartz and Mixon have done an exceptional job so far in navigating Joe past the shoals of childhood and adolescence. The evidence is the final chapter of Oddly Normal, a children's story written by Joe as a class assignment: "Leo, The Oddly Normal Boy." Joe's writing, you'll find, displays the same creativity and sensitivity that I've seen in the writing of his parents. It plants a seed of anticipation—someday soon I expect to read Joe's own version of his story. I can't wait.

NEXT: California Schools Owe Billions in Bond Interest

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  1. You know who else made it hard for the disabled and LGBT?

    1. The assistant coach at Penn State?

    2. Ron Jeremy probably made it hard for a lot of gay men.

      1. You think? I don’t know that many gay men, but I don’t think any of them are embiggened by RJ.

        I was going to go with Lady Gaga.

        1. I was going to go with Lady Gaga.

          That kinda makes sense. The only gay man I’ve ever had that sort of conversation with thought Madonna (who was then in her brass cone brassiere phase) was the height of sexiness.

          1. I would have guessed gay men were turned on by male genitalia. Isn’t that how Tom of Finland made a living?

    3. More crap from Reason, more kowotwing to lierals. A gay kid gets bullied, and it’s the school that’s at fault. The school should of course be involving it more and more in it’s students lives, in a quest to make everyone “normal.” A gay kid tries to kill himself, and there is nothing wrong with the gay kid, it’s society’s fault. When people call you mean names, you kill yourself, that’s just how society works. That’s why we need a big government telling us what we can and can’t say or think. We should spend millions and millions in order to make sure an illiterate gay genius doesn’t feel bad. And here’s a point I would like to make, being gay ISN’T normal. Playing with barbies isn’t normal. If you do it, other children aren’t going to like you very much. They’re not going to want to talk about your barbie playset, they are going to want to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh, or something like it. People tend to associate with other people who have similar personalities, intrests, ideologies, ect, ect as themselves. The nerds are going to associate with the nerds. When I was in school the boneheads would make fun of me, they wouldn’t want to sit next to me, because I was a nerd, and visa versa. I associated mainly with other nerds. When it happened to me and just about every other child in the world, it was a part of life. When it happens to an illiterate homosexual, it is a national tragedy.

  2. You know who else found himself consistently misclassified and misdiagnosed by professional staff, and alienated from and bullied by some of his fellow students…

    1. I would have answered Lucy Steigerwald, but the question specifically says “himself”.

      1. Also it says fellow students, not fellow editors.

  3. YOU KNOW WHO ELSE WAS HITLERISH?

  4. I’d also take exception that this is any sort of ‘real test’ of education policy.

    The actual ‘real test’ is how educated the average graduate is. And education policy has obviously utterly failed that test.

    No one-size-fits-all system is ever going to be great for all the little special flowers out there. And thinking that it is, or that you can force it to be is sheer idiocy.

    Of course, forcing everyone to pay for the ‘education’ of everyone elses children, whether they want to or not, leaves most parents with little choice but to send their special flowers off to the grinder. Where they get their first dose of having the government they so rightly deserve.

    So thanks for admitting why you reviewed this Mike.

    And for missing the inherent statist bent of the book. Of course, I would expect nothing less.

    1. “The actual ‘real test’ is how educated the average graduate is. And education policy has obviously utterly failed that test.”

      That is because education policy has nothing to do with ‘education’ in the sense that you and I think of it. It has everything to do with forcing conformity and obedience into the students and job security for teachers and administrators.

      1. Exactly. Let’s not forget that the education establishment is not run for the benefit of students, it is run for the benefit of the education establishment.

    2. I think the actual ‘real test’ is how the education system treats my child. After all, my child is the only one I really care about to any extent. And my child is the one who is forced to go to a crappy public school (unless I can somehow come up with enough money to also pay for a private school).

      If the public education system fails my child, then I should have the ability to pull both him and my money out of it and send them both some place else.

      I think we end up in the same place WG, but it all starts with the individual, not some nebulous average. Thinking about the ‘average’ person encourages attempts to centrally plan ‘average’ lives for everyone. That is the root of so many problems today.

      1. Oh god no, you’re absolutely right. Please don’t interpret my post that way!

        Even if the public school system did a REALLY good job of educating the average child (or, in fact, your child) I’d still be against it.

        I was just trying to argue from within Godwin’s (statist) position.

        1. I figured we were on the same page. Just wanted to make sure.

        2. I was just trying to argue from within Godwin’s (statist) position.

          The only “position” I see in this review is that the school did a crappy job. You seem to be reading things he doesn’t say here.

    3. No one-size-fits-all system is ever going to be great for all the little special flowers out there.

      No one-size-fits-all system is ever going to be great. Period.

      The American public school system is designed to be mediocre in the name of social equity and mobility.

    4. Yes to this. As much as I may feel sympathetic to the Schwartz’s, there simply isn’t enough money in the world to give every special child the personalized education to which I suspect the Schwartz’s feel they are ‘entitled’.

      It’s simply poor logic to set public policy by way of personal antecdote – i.e. “how would you feel if this happened to you/your mother/your child?” This is how you wind up with laws named after somebody, and it’s a pretty sure bet that any law named after somebody is a shitty law. And it’s how we wound up with the whole NCLB and the ADA crap to start with.

      The Schwartz’s can’t afford to move to a better school district, homeschool, or send their child to a private school? Bull. It would entail a sacrifice but it could be done. It’s simply a matter of priorities. They apparently don’t want to sacrifice their other children’s well-being for the good of their problematic child – but, also apparently, don’t have a problem insisting that everybody else should sacrifice for their problematic child.

      1. To be clear – I am agreeing with WRG’s original post.

        If your argument is that you judge a system by the outlier result, you seem to be arguing in favor of equal outcomes rather than equal opportunity. That way lies Harrison Bergeron.

        But if you want equal outcomes – hey, you and your kid got fucked by the system. That’s exactly the same result we all get from the public school system. What’s the problem?

    5. The public schools were a total waste of my time back in the 60s/70s, but I had high hopes that they could at least educate “average” kids.

      So you can imagine how disillusioned I was to discover when I went my own very nice, but fairly average daughter to public school and learned that they don’t educate these kids either.

    6. I’d also take exception that this is any sort of ‘real test’ of education policy.

      You’d be wrong. Education policy should be able to handle individual differences. I had to deal with issues a lot of kids don’t have to. My first public school dealt with it in a crappy manner, as did the private schools we tried. The second public school system I was in did an awesome job of helping me precisely because it wasn’t “one-size-fits-all” in its approach. Stuff like this is a real test, and this school system failed it miserably.

      No one-size-fits-all system is ever going to be great for all the little special flowers out there. And thinking that it is, or that you can force it to be is sheer idiocy.

      There is a big difference between “great” and “absolute crap”. A school doesn’t have to deal with every issue perfectly, but there’s a point that you need to admit the school failed miserably. It doesn’t have to be that way, and implying that this kid and his parents are fools for wanting better is condescending and sickening.

      1. Education policy should be able to handle individual differences.

        Strangely, we don’t seem to run into this inability to handle individual differences in the marketplaces for other goods and services that we pay for with our own money. Do you think there might be a correlation there?

        1. Yup, I definitely think it would be beneficial for government to have less involvement in education. Tell me where in my post I said I was in favor of government-run schools?

    7. Of course, forcing everyone to pay for the ‘education’ of everyone elses children, whether they want to or not, leaves most parents with little choice but to send their special flowers off to the grinder. Where they get their first dose of having the government they so rightly deserve.

      Mostly agree here, except for the idea this kid or his parents “deserved” what happened.

      So thanks for admitting why you reviewed this Mike.

      Because he knows the guy who wrote it and the people involved in it?

      And for missing the inherent statist bent of the book.

      Which is what, exactly? We both read the review, I even read some other reviews of the book, and I’m at a loss for where the source of your vitriol comes from. You just seem to have a hard-on over this whole thing for no apparent reason.

      1. Or it could be that you’ve got your wood up for all the special flowers in the public school system because you were apparently one yourself. There’s nothing wrong with reacting out of self interest, but don’t expect everyone else to sympathize. The public school system sucks. Expecting to waltz in and have the entire thing reverse its orbit because your special flower is so, well, special, is a bit arrogant.

        1. Or it could be that you’ve got your wood up for all the special flowers in the public school system because you were apparently one yourself.

          OR it’s that I think his critiques are without merit and he’s being a jerk. That I had difficulties myself only helps inform my understanding of how well (and how poorly) schools can handle this sort of thing.

          There’s nothing wrong with reacting out of self interest, but don’t expect everyone else to sympathize.

          It’s obviously not out of self-interest, I’ve graduated already and won’t fall into the traps this couple did when I have kids. Thanks for assuming my own problems are my only motivation for criticizing his comment.

        2. The public school system sucks.

          It differs from school system to school system. Some are really bad, some are really good, and a lot are in between. I got bad luck with my first public school district (along with all of the PRIVATE schools I was in), and got lucky with the second public school system I was in.

          Expecting to waltz in and have the entire thing reverse its orbit because your special flower is so, well, special, is a bit arrogant.

          I’d hardly call wanting better than crap for a kid “waltzing in and having the entire thing reverse orbit”. And just like WG, you’re apparently incapable of characterizing people you disagree with without being a condescending asshole. You can’t seem to believe that someone could hold my opinion for good reasons, that OBVIOUSLY it’s because I’m some sort of self-absorbed twat, because that’s OF COURSE the only reason someone could fault the education system for handling this in a crappy manner. THAT’S pretty damn “arrogant”. Knock off the ad hominem douchebaggery.

      2. It seems odd to be criticized for expressly disclosing the likely sources of any bias in my review. Out in the real world, this is generally taken as a sign of honesty and fair dealing.

    8. The actual ‘real test’ is how educated the average graduate is.

      Sort of, except that there are very few “average” children in education. Even controlling for intelligence and leaving out special conditions, kids have different learning styles.

      One of my daughters learned almost everything by reading. The other learned almost nothing that way. She could read, very well, but she needed to get her hands on something before she understood it. The first daughter learned from general to specific, the other had to approach the specific, then generalize.

      Public school administrators will look you in the eye and tell you they understand that, then stuff everyone in exactly the same lesson plan.

      1. The problem with “leaning styles” is that it is very hard for a teacher to remeber the “learning style” of eighty students. My friend is a teacher, and she tells me how teachers and parents always use “he has a different learning style” as a subsitute for “he has a low IQ,” because teachers don’t want to be rude, and they don’t want to be fired because IQ is a politically incorrect concept. Learning styles are the latest cause celebre for people who want more “teacher training” and “investment” in education when in reality all the want to do is avoid intelligence’s inconvienient truths. I’m not denying that learning style’s exist. As I was learning physics in college, the easiest things for me to understand were the things that I could visualize. For others, it was the math they tried hard to understand, they didn’t even bother trying to visualize it, for that confused them. Despite this, the great differences were in IQ. Many of the students were of only slightly above average intelligence, there due more to parental pressure than to any passion for the subject. They would spend hours studying, while me and my friends played Call of Duty. Nevertheless by the time I reached Calc 3, most of these people were gone.

  5. Anyone else notice that Thomas Sowell Godwin’ed himself today?

    Also, is every work by Godwin, immediately Godwin’ed simply because seeing his name makes everyone think of Hitler?

    1. The fact that he’s a quasi-fascist naturally evokes the image anyway.

      1. I’m charmed that someone thinks I’m a “quasi-fascist.” How so? I’m startled that anyone could look at my career and draw that conclusion.

  6. Needs more LABELS!

    1. Labels?! Labels are for women, and cattle!

      I mean Fridays. Labels are for Fridays.

  7. “G! T! L! D!
    L! G! B! T!
    Gooooooo Schwartz!”

  8. “There is,” Schwartz writes in Oddly Normal, his engaging, informative memoir about his son, “an abbreviation for this: GT/LD, for ‘gifted and talented/learning disabled.'”

    Those abbreviations are there to try to make things for difficult for regular people to understand. My mother worked as a teacher’s aide for retarded children, a job descriptoin I think most people would understand. However, her official job title was the more mysterious “paraprofessional”. (Nobody could ever tell me the difference between a paraprofessional and a para-amateur.) The propaganda put out by the union also referred to “ESP”s, which I think stood for “Education support personnel”; there was also “SRP” which I think was “school-related personnel” for the janitors and stuff.

    It’s the same way in medicine (sorry, Groovus), where there seems to be a desire to make acronyms and abbreviations out of everything under the sun. One that irritates me the most is that commercial telling people about the symptoms of low testosterone, a term I think everybody would recognize. Unfortunately, the establishment seems to have decided the rename the affliction “Low T”. Why make something less comprehensible? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

    1. Why make something less comprehensible?

      Control. And fear. And job protection.

      1. Control. And fear. And job protection.

        Word fear and word worship phenomena also indicate a belief in magic.

    2. Every profession has its jargon, Ted. (Turboencabulator, anyone?) And the difference between a “paraprofessional” and a “para-amateur” is that a paraprofessional works besides a professional; whereas a para-amateur works besides an amateur. That’s not jargon, that’s just knowing your Greek and Latin prefixes. 🙂

      1. I’m a movie blogger, but I hate Varietyspeak.

        I’ve never really determined whether my mother worked beside professionals or amateurs, either.

      2. (Turboencabulator, anyone?)

        Anybody who remembers the 1970s will likely remember Bud Haggart (though probably not his name) from science and industrial films. He did a bit on the Turbo-encabulator and delivered it like the pro he was.

  9. If you have a school-age child who is special in any way?or, like Joe Schwartz, special in more than one way

    But aren’t they all special? Isn’t that what were supposed to believe these days? Fuck you right in your oversensitive ear.

    1. Some children are more special than others.

      1. I always max out agility and luck. Then again, I think energy weapons are boring and hand-to-hand is for min/maxers.

        1. This is my perk.

          Jus’ sayin’ ladies…

        2. There are no energy weapons in Skyrim! Maybe you should be Megaton Guard or New Vegas Guard now.

          1. My Staff of Chain Lightning isn’t an energy weapon? What a strange definition of “”energy” you have.

    2. It reminds me of The Incredbles. The girl says to the boy “everyone is special.” He replies “that’s just another way of saying no one is.”

  10. Full disclosure: I have known Schwartz for more than 35 years, and Mixon?formerly my high-school girlfriend?for 40. (I also know their two older children fairly well, but I know Joe only from this book. I appear briefly in the book’s early pages.)

    Impeccable impartiality.

    1. It seems worth pointing out that the only reason you know the likely sources of my biases is that I took the trouble to tell you.

  11. Joe, who had just come out as gay at age 13, attempted to kill himself with an overdose of the nonprescription drug Benadryl, apparently in response to other students’ reactions to his revelation.

    People who try to kill themselves should be left alone to die. Especially if they’re doing it because somebody said something mean.

    1. Wow! Some real heartless bastards here this morning!

      Don’t you realize that this is for the children and therefore if it saves just one life it is worth whatever price we must pay?

      1. Look at what good saving all these useless people has gotten us. Next thing you know they’re in Congress ruining everybody’s lives.

    2. That’s such a waste. I’d be happy to work them to death in my monocle mines free of charge.

    3. Yeah, what kind of a 13 year old, learning disabled kid would be so sensitive to peer opinion? The monster.

      1. I know, I’d rather put a million $park?s to death in a concentration camp than allow a single worthless burden to society like that kid kill himself.

        1. I don’t know why people are being such dicks to a kid who had a rough life. I mean, his parents are a New York Times reporter and a legislative staffer. I feel like there are least two people in this story much more deserving of death.

          1. Believe me, if they tried to kill themselves I’d be against anyone trying to ‘save’ them too.

          2. I don’t know why people are being such dicks to a kid who had a rough life.

            ANYONE who hates their life so much that they want to end it should be allowed to do so.

            1. A 13 year old kid is not capable of making that decision. At what age should we intervene? If a 10 year old tries to kill himself should we just say ‘Eh, it’s his choice.’

              1. You’d rather wait until they’ve caused the maximum possible misery? The world is better off without people who hate life.

                1. Right, because life never gets better for anyone who tries to kill themselves, especially not teenagers.

                2. The kid was thirteen when this happened. I was miserable when I was thirteen. Tons of people are miserable when they’re thirteen. I like my life now, and I’m sure the same can be said for innumerable miserable teenagers once they grow out of their teenage drama.

                  I agree with you if someone is of a reasonable age to make a decision. In particular, if someone is dying of a terminal disease we should let them choose when they want to die. But a 13 year old is nowhere near mature enough to make that choice.

                  1. BP:
                    Right, because life never gets better for anyone who tries to kill themselves, especially not teenagers.

                    iggy:
                    I like my life now, and I’m sure the same can be said for innumerable miserable teenagers once they grow out of their teenage drama.

                    And every day millions of teenagers with shitty lives don’t try to kill themselves.

                3. Do you have kids, Sparky?

                  If one of my kids wanted to commit suicide, I’d try to talk to them and give them perspective. And if that didn’t work and I had to rush them to the hospital to try and save their life, I’d do that too.

                  If they really really wanted to die, they’d figure out how to do that despite my best efforts.

                  But, as someone who grew up really depressed a lot of the time, life can get much better as you get older. Childhood sucks if you are different.

                  1. Do you have kids, Sparky?

                    Yes, 12 and 17.

                    If one of my kids wanted to commit suicide, I’d try to talk to them and give them perspective. And if that didn’t work and I had to rush them to the hospital to try and save their life, I’d do that too.

                    As would I, the first time.

                    If they really really wanted to die, they’d figure out how to do that despite my best efforts.

                    Exactly.

                    But, as someone who grew up really depressed a lot of the time, life can get much better as you get older. Childhood sucks if you are different.

                    I hear you, I was the same way. Clinical depression (due to chemical imbalance) runs in my family. I have it and my kids do as well, though thankfully it’s getting weaker over the generations.

                    Here’s my point: Life is an amazing thing that should be lived thoroughly every day. If you can’t handle it even at the worst of times then you don’t deserve it.

                    1. If you can’t handle it even at the worst of times then you don’t deserve it.

                      You’re wrong. Being depressed hardly says anything about whether someone “deserves” life or not. You’re saying a woman with postpartum depression or someone at a crappy place in their life deserves death? I’m as ambivalent as anyone about ALLOWING suicide, but whether someone DESERVES death, in my opinion, has little to nothing to do with whether they want to die.

                    2. I think I have a clue as to possible sources of your kids’ depression.

          3. I don’t know why people are being such dicks to a kid who had a rough life.

            Well, iggy, unfortunately there’s a lot of that here. And then they wonder why more people are unwilling to embrace libertarianism.

            1. Not everyone here has embraced libertarianism. Not everybody is cut out to live in the world we have. If somebody wants out of the deal, I say let them. Why do you want to force miserable people to stay alive? Why do you want to force others to care for those miserable people? Why are you against a person’s right to decide if they want to die?

            2. Sparky, I was commenting on the lack of basic empathy which is rather common here, and of which you are an exemplar.

              I didn’t say anything about forcing anyone to do anything. That was all in your head.

              Try responding to the points that people actually make.

              1. I suppose you’re right, there was no point responding to your pointless (other than to call people out) post. The only empathy I lack is for people who want to kill themselves. There are millions of people on this Earth with shitty lives that don’t kill themselves, these are the people worth keeping.

                1. As are the people who want to kill themselves. I hardly think “this person wants to die” tells us if they’re “worthwhile”. You’re just being a jackass.

    4. I think he was just listening to this song too much.

  12. In putting Joe’s Barbies away, Schwartz writes, they “had built his first closet.”

    A literal closet…FOR THEIR SON’S BARBIE DOLLS!

    1. But also a metaphorical closet!! For his ginormous faggotry (NTTAWWT).

      Oh man, that’s like watching Inception with Memento in PIP! What a mind-screw!

  13. Dude seems to kow whats going on over there.

    http://www.Surf-Data.tk

  14. So, why is it that the now full time mom can’t afford to homeschool?

    1. She has 2 other children you insensitive clod. It is all explained in the review.

      1. The world needs monocle polishers as well..

        I think I have the answer to my question: they can’t afford to show that public school isn’t the answer for everyone.

    2. The kid is super smart, with a minimum of motivation he’ll school himself.

    3. The mom now has a day job bringing in extra money to support all three kids.

  15. Has it occurred to Schwartz, Mixon and Godwin that the problem may just possibly lie in the barbaric practice of imposing labels like “gifted,” “learning disabled,” or even “special” on friggin’ Kindergardeners? And with adults assuming that the children in question, and their classmates, don’t understand that they are being labeled as something “different?” Or that everyone doesn’t know that the sweet-sounding euphemism “special” really means “we think there’s something wrong with you?”

    This is all a product of a fifty-year-old federal program of “special education” for “individuals with disabilities” (“it puts the individual first!”) that states are required to comply with as a condition of receiving federal education money. It is an obscene bureaucratic nightmare that combines Orwellian Newspeak with Kafkaesque absurdity. It requires every district to operate a Child Study Team (CST), consisting of a School Psychologist, a Social Worker and a Learning Disabled Teacher-Consultant, to “examine” students suspected of being “individuals with disabilities,” then determine whether they are to be “categorized” into one of fixed number of “special” categories defined by law, and then give the categorized child an Individualized Education Program (IEP) based on their pre-determined category. This, we are told, provides the “special” child with the individualized attention he or she deserves.

    And Godwin wonders why it does not work?

    1. All we need is more labels and Top Men!

    2. I don’t recall saying I “wonder” about anything. Perhaps you have confused my review with another article.

  16. They knew he was gay in kindergarten!??!?!!?! WHAT THE FUCK? Call me a neanderthal that needs to go to a progressive reeducation camp over this one, but what the fuck are kindergartners doing having sex!?!?!?

    Kids are not gay. They are not straight. They are instead… kids. They may be curious about what adults do, but until puberty hits they are not heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual, for the simple reason that THEY ARE NOT SEXUAL. (Leave Freud out of it, he was a crackpot).

    And what the fuck does “flamboyantly girly” have to do with being gay?!?!

    1. Ummm, if your prepubescent son (or daughter) has puppy love crushes on kids of the same gender, they are likely going to want to have gay sex when they hit puberty.

      Gay isn’t just about sexual contact. It’s about who you are romantically attracted to.

      1. Kids have puppy love crushes on kids of the opposite gender soley because of culture. It’s not nature it’s nurture. They’re playing out what they see around them.

    2. Brandybuck, you’re beyond the point of even being wrong.

      1. I’ve taught kindergarten. Children at that age simply are not romantically attracted to other children, regardless of gender. I have seen a few exceptions, of course, but they are merely acting out cultural roles. After age eleven or twelve it’s a different story, but not at age six or seven.

    3. I was struck by the same thing. Deciding that your pre-labeled delicate flower is also a homosexual from the time he is born might just turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. This kid was “othered” practically from the time he was evacuating the birth canal by helicopter parents, and they wonder why he felt different and isolated and suicidal.

      1. For instance:

        Schwartz and Mixon also had a strong sense early on that Joe?flamboyantly girly from the moment he could talk?was gay.

        Isn’t that the kind of stereotyping for which we’ve all been berated by the gay rights lobby as lazy, ignorant, simple-minded, homophobic and bigoted? Is this one those “Only black people can say nigger” type of situations, or what?

      2. It can’t be a “self-fulfilling prophecy” if it’s not, you know, a prophecy. “Helicopter parents” does not apply in this instance — perhaps you are unfamiliar with how that term is used.

  17. I was in New Jersey special education for years. It didn’t help me in the slightest. I’m still a regular Hit&Run; poster.

    1. I made a typo, sorry.

  18. for precisely the same reason (two other children) they couldn’t afford to send Joe to a private school or to homeschool him.

    I’d say that if sending your kid to public school results in him making a serious attempt at suicide, you can’t afford to NOT try some other alternative, unless you only value money and not your children.

    1. Yeah, it’s the school system that made him do it. In a privte school, he would have a smartphone that would record his every move and utterance, and that of the pther students, to make sure he was never bullied.

      1. Slow down tiger, your idiocy is coming at such a rapid clip you’re dropping letters and misspelling things.

  19. Yet another statist article. Maybe that’s why we should all pay for our own childrens’ education rather than paying for everyone else who decides to have children.

  20. More crap from Reason, more kowotwing to lierals. A gay kid gets bullied, and it’s the school that’s at fault. The school should of course be involving it more and more in it’s students lives, in a quest to make everyone “normal.” A gay kid tries to kill himself, and there is nothing wrong with the gay kid, it’s society’s fault. When people call you mean names, you kill yourself, that’s just how society works. That’s why we need a big government telling us what we can and can’t say or think. We should spend millions and millions in order to make sure an illiterate gay genius doesn’t feel bad. And here’s a point I would like to make, being gay ISN’T normal. Playing with barbies isn’t normal. If you do it, other children aren’t going to like you very much. They’re not going to want to talk about your barbie playset, they are going to want to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh, or something like it. People tend to associate with other people who have similar personalities, intrests, ideologies, ect, ect as themselves. The nerds are going to associate with the nerds. When I was in school the boneheads would make fun of me, they wouldn’t want to sit next to me, because I was a nerd, and visa versa. I associated mainly with other nerds. When it happened to me and just about every other child in the world, it was a part of life. When it happens to an illiterate homosexual, it is a national tragedy.

  21. Schwartz, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Jeanne Mixon, a former state legislature staffer… couldn’t afford to send Joe to a private school or to homeschool him.

    Yeah, those poor working stiffs at NYT. Maybe he could have taken on a second job as a housekeeper to make ends meet or something. Give me a fucking break. They wanted their kid in public school because they decided from the time he was born that he was “special”, “different”, in need of labeling and coddling, and wanted validation from the teachers, administrators, taxpayers, and students – and at their expense. Cry me a fucking river.

    1. This is simply factually false in every respect.

  22. B-A-R-F

    This is the worst article M.Godwin has ever written. I hope it is.

    1. Which would you say is the best article I’ve ever written?

      1. You’re worse than Chapman. You endorsed Obama, because of his position on GAY MARRIAGE!! Obviously you care more about whether your friedns homosexual child will not be bullied than whether I will have my liberty. Fuck you

        https://reason.com/archives/201…..am#comment

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