Madison Disability Pride Festival 2020
August 1, 12 PM – 5 PM
402 N. Thornton Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Disability Pride Madison Condemns MMSD Plan
to Warehouse Disabled Students
MADISON, WISCONSIN DECEMBER 13, 2019 – On Monday, December 9th, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board Member and disability advocate Nicki Vander Meulen published an article in the Wisconsin Examiner titled “Why is Madison planning to warehouse disabled kids?” It details how MMSD is making a decision on purchasing a $4.5 million property to house disability programs at 333 Holtzman Road. After full review of this article and plan, Disability Pride Madison members are shocked and disappointed that MMSD would put forth an initiative so blatantly in violation of the ADA and IDEA, with no community input.
In a nation where 1 in 5 people are disabled, schools need to be doing the work to support disabled students in their right to be equally educated. A report in 2018 from the National Council on Disability states:
“Data shows us that when students are included, they have more access to the general curriculum and effective instruction, they achieve at higher rates of academic performance, and they acquire better social and behavioral outcomes. In addition, when educated in inclusive classrooms, peers without disabilities experience either a positive academic and social impact or at least no negative impact on academic achievement” (to review the full report, click here).
We know that the benefits for both disabled and nondisabled students extend beyond what has been formally studied. And we also know there is an absolute wealth of strategies for meaningful inclusion of disabled students in public education. These strategies include implementing universal design for learning, cooperative learning and differentiated instruction, as well as using data-based instructional decisions and culturally responsive teaching, utilizing positive behavior interventions, supports and peer assisted learning, and implementing multi-tiered systems of supports (more information available here, pages 41-46). Has MMSD exhausted all of their options? Or are they looking for an easy way out?
Disability Pride Madison need to acknowledge the interconnectedness of disabled students and the existing No Cops in Schools campaign. Black students with disabilities were considerably more likely to be arrested at MMSD schools in 2015:
- Black high-school students with disabilities were 76 times more likely to be arrested.
- Black middle-school students with disabilities were 27 times more likely to be arrested.
- Black elementary students with disabilities were 6 times more likely to be arrested.
We know reports of force and restraint against disabled students is high, especially in segregated spaces, higher than what is reported as we know much of the abuse that disabled kids experience goes undocumented.
Disability Pride Madison believes there should be No Cops in Schools, because police are a threat to students of color, disabled students, and disabled students of color in MMSD and beyond.
We look to Georgia, whose students have been locked in a class action lawsuit since 2017 against the state for discrimination against thousands of public school students with disabilities by providing them with a separate and unequal education via the State’s Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports Program (GNETS).
Disability Pride Madison believes MMSD should be PROUD to include disabled students in their classrooms. Disability Pride Madison encourages anyone who is opposed to this plan to contact the MMSD Board Members either by phone or by email, and to show up to speak out at the Monday, December 16th MMSD Board Meeting at 6pm. If you want help around what to say or how to say it, please reach out to us at email@example.com. We have a template you can use to email MMSD board members.
Join us in educating the MMSD school board on the benefits of inclusion, and in promoting the well-being of all of our students.
Disability Pride Madison is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building cross-disability community and celebrating people with disabilities as valuable members of a diverse world.
We organize the annual Madison Disability Pride Festival, which is one of few in the nation. Here, people with and without disabilities can come together to celebrate in a positive, fun environment.
There’s lots of ways to get involved with Madison Disability Pride! You can become a festival sponsor or make a donation, you can volunteer or exhibit at the festival, and you can contribute to planning and organization. Anything makes a difference!
With your support, we will continue to expand our capacity to create a culture of respect and love for people with disabilities in Madison and beyond!
“Disability Pride” artwork by Rachel Litchman