“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Opportunity Schools Brunch

I had the pleasure yesterday of speaking to a group of people who are on the leading edge of bringing special education to Christian schools. They met at a brunch sponsored by Opportunity Schools, an organization attempting to support Christian schools as they attempt to integrate special education http://opp4kids.org The meeting was held as a part of the ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) meeting in Anaheim, California.

Anyway, as a speaker, I sometimes find that I get insights in preparing presentations to groups, and even get further insights in doing the actual presentation. Yesterday two ideas came up.

The first is that in the early days of the special education movement which led up to laws giving persons with disability the right to a public school education (50's, 60's and early 70's) we sometimes hear about groups of parents renting churches as places to have parent run schools. The question is whether these schools really proliferated in the United States, and if so, once the federal law came into place such that these schools were no longer "necessary" where did the kids with disability just go to the public schools, and what was the churches' response? I wonder whether many of these schools were actually Christian special education schools or whether it was simply a space renting situation. If it was the latter, which in hindsight it appears it may have been, we as Christians really missed an incredible opportunity. It could be, however, that there were not as many of these church rented, parent run schools as thought.

The second idea is that the vision I share with many others, a vision of the church being open to persons with all types of disability, is not necessarily the church's vision. So a future of openness to persons with disability is a future that may not even be on the church's radar screen. This implies that our first goal needs to be to get that notion into the minds of churches and then the second, to work to make that vision for a future of openness a reality. This is very basic stuff, but it is the starting point.


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