Learning Disabled: A Manmade Disease

One of the duties I perform almost daily, about 2-3 times a week (it used to be 5), is that I provide tutorial services to children, primarily in the area of literacy—reading, writing, and vocabulary. I have also Home Schooled children for three years prior to my tutorial services, who ranged anywhere from Kindergarten to 6th grade. Needless to say, I rather enjoy teaching children; it involves my two most favorite things: teaching and children (obviously). We even do a Lecture presentation on the Dumbing Down of the Educational System, primarily its relation to black youth. We’ve presented in Kentucky, Chicago (my home town…south side! < in my Chicago voice, if you ain’t from the Chi don’t worry, you won’t get the joke), Baltimore, and Houston to name a few. In my experience, I’ve learned so much about how children learn and some of the valuable methods needed to assist them in this endeavor. I still don’t consider myself an expert, but what I’ve come to research and to understand by way of hands on face to face experience has taught me a lot. And today I would like to speak briefly on learning disabilities because there is simply no such thing.

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Certainly, there are indeed children who have a much more difficult time reading and writing than others. As early as 1867, a German teacher of the deaf founded a school for slow learning children. Accordingly, these children’s memories were too weak to remember letters and due the poor motor coordination of their fingers they had difficulty learning how to write. So the teacher understood he must implement remedial reading methods. This did not mean however, that these children were mentally retarded. The moral of the story is that problems with learning have always been around, the question is, when did the idea of a “neurological dysfunction” called herein Learning Disabled, become the term to which we apply to children who learn at a slower pace than others? And does a Learning Disability actually have anything to do with how they learn in the first place?

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A disease is an illness caused by a virus that has attacked the immune system, and on April 6, 1963, a new disease was implemented in Chicago that had its roots in the south, that would very soon be given to millions of black schoolchildren before ballooning into a worldwide epidemic. It was said to have been hidden deep inside the neurological system according to psychologist. What we didn’t know however, was these were the same psychologist who had been studying the brain and central nervous system in search for man’s soul since the time of Wilhelm Wundt, founder of experimental psychology back in the 18th century. Wundt believed that man didn’t have a soul living inside of him, and as such he was no different than an animal whose actions are almost always reactions. That is, man’s behavior is only determined by his surroundings and can thus be altered by way of stimulus-response; provide the right stimuli, get the right response. In short, he can be programmed like an animal in a laboratory. So, fast forward to the 1960’s when scientist and psychologist began to back the promotion of one of the most deadly diseases now plaguing not just the so called African American community, but communities in general. The United States Government would spend billions of dollars on this new affliction over the next 20 years.

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In 1963,  nine years after the Brown vs. Board of Education verdict of 1954, that stated that racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (FYI, the decision did not fully desegregate public education in the United States, though galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement), The Learning Disabled Movement began taking root. The beliefs that people were a result of their environment had long since upheld the belief that wealthy children of well-to-do neighborhoods would flourish academically, while poor children of impoverished neighborhoods would not. Of course, we have to keep in mind that this was during the Civil Rights Era and that (even until this day) there are certain code words that are often used to represent a certain group of people so that the declarations remain politically correct, and are not cause for concern. What was meant by this is simply that rich white kids in the suburbs would do better than poor black kids in the ghettos academically. However, in the 1960s, parents of white children saw a drop in their children’s IQ’s and academic success. They saw that their children too, were not performing very well. And since psychologist had long since experimented with the brain and nervous system enough to provide the statistical data to “prove it”, these parents formed The Learning Disabilities Movement, in which there was allegedly a mental disorder associated with their children’s lack of academic success:

“For many of the parents of these children, accustomed as they were to success and acclimated to a pain-free educational scheme, these results seemed fluky. Since they felt themselves entitled to success, failure was an obvious aberration {oddness}. Educators faced a similar problem: They could not blame the low test scores on racism and poverty or even the lack of funding. Students from the most lavishly appointed schools in the nation were failing to make the grade. The impetus for change came from parents first. They could have blamed “systematic social influences on the schools” for the failures, or they could have blamed principals and teachers for ineptly handling neurologically normal children. Or they might have decided that their children were “slow learners, ecologically disabled, or just bored to death by school.” Instead, they gravitated toward the idea that their children suffered from learning disabilities.” – Charles Sykes, Dumbing Down Our Kids, pg. 189-190

There was, of course, no such thing as a learning disability, but the “professionals” sure did clear that up. Put together a hodgepodge of numbers and graphs and people would believe anything. And they did. “Learning Disabilities” appealed to many parents and helped to jump-start the birth of a nation. But this program would soon become something much greater. After Brown vs. Board of Education, this program would become the savior of separate but unequal. This is when we come back to Samuel Kirk, the Chicago Psychologist.

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In that same year, 1963, Kirk created The Learning Disability, except the LD movement had already begun in the south between white parents and the “professionals” who backed them. This Learning Disability he would create however, would flip the script: it would no longer be used as an excuse for prominent white parents; it would become a tool against black children. Now black children (especially black boys), can be separated from white children and it was not against the law. The Gifted program took off around this same time, the 1960s. It was a program to which school children’s IQ’s would be tested to separate those who were highly intelligent from those who were not. The concept of IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which is used in the “diagnosing” of Special Education (a Federal Program), was started by Eugenicist (Eugenics is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population by killing off those “less desirable”, such as African Americans, as a form of birth control) from The American Eugenicist Society for the purpose of population extermination. Since students could no longer be judged by the colors of their skin, they were now judged by numbers and test scores. It wasn’t until after the Brown vs. Board of Education Verdict of 1954 that the “Gifted” program even took off because it was another way to keep the “races” separate without breaking the law.

 

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Now ALL children across ethnicity’s are infected with the disease of “Learning Disabled”. They have to walk around with the stigma that they are mentally sick for the rest of their lives although there is nothing to prove it. When you say you want your child tested, what does that mean? The test does not tell you whether or not your child has a learning disability. Tests produce numbers; it is not a diagnoses. It’s your signature on a piece of paper that gives the school psychologist permission to tell you what they think, and to make hypothesis or “Educated Guesses” on whether or not he or she thinks the child is reading disabled.

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What parents need to understand, is that there is no “study” that can determine or prove that someone is something called “Learning Disabled” because there’s no such thing. No physical symptoms, no known neurological deficits, no genetic traits, no consistent clinical descriptions, no diagnostic testing, no techniques of treatment based on actual real, factual evidence outside of medications intentionally designed to slow energized and happy kids down and make them depressed eight year olds…. there is absolutely nothing that proves a child has a mental disorder associated with learning. We’re not talking children who are slow learners and need that extra help,  or children who simply have trouble reading and writing, we’re talking about a medical deformity, a neurological retardation of the child’s ability to understand called Learning Disabled, it does not exist. When the teachers come to you with that question about testing your child, especially your boys, start asking questions and demanding results. And finally,  stop signing every piece of paper children bring home from school.

The Power of Purpose

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“The obstacles you encounter rarely have a coherent purpose of their own. They are just there, inconvenient and troublesome to be sure, but with nothing of substance to sustain them.
You, on the other hand, have the extreme advantage of being able to choose and follow a definite purpose. By so doing, instead of randomly scattering your energy and efforts, you can sharply focus and powerfully concentrate all that energy, all those efforts in a consistent direction.
Soft, gentle raindrops falling over a wide area will always yield to the contours and obstructions of the landscape. Yet when those tiny drops of water are concentrated into a mighty river, they have the power to cut through any obstruction.
In the same way, when your thoughts, feelings and actions are centered around a clear and consistent purpose, nothing can hold you back. The random and disjointed exertions of circumstance are no match for a living and unwavering purpose.
The problems, the frustrations, the challenges and the difficult situations come and go. A steadfast, meaningful purpose will carry you successfully through them all.
Give your life a decided advantage over all the burdensome circumstances you encounter. Live each moment in the service of the highest and most positive purpose you can imagine.”

— Ralph Marston

Mankind is an Arrogant Creation

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Mankind is an arrogant creation.
He walks proudly on both legs,
almost as if the wind carries him
His head is tilted toward the sky that he curses with his lips
But the clouds mock him
And the seas have admitted, he is foolish in his ways
He possess intellect, but his intelligence has seated him on the right side of fools
knowledge, wisdom, and understanding has slipped from his fingers; escaping his memory
He has no parachute to which to catch them, and he does not desire to
He is an arrogant creation, man is
Everything is thankful except him
He does not understand that what elevates the trees,
birds,
and even the wind is their willingness to bow in submission to love
to fill the vessel that is himself with compassion
to walk an orderly path
to wrap oneself outwardly and inwardly around it like a fetus in its mother’s womb
to bleed it’s law
and conform to the shape and the will of love
but he is greater in comparison
man is
And what compares to love?
He cannot count the number of hairs on his head
Measure the depth of the sea
And the width of the wind
Yet, he is greater than love?
Yes
It is clear
deception has robbed him of the truth…
because mankind is an arrogant creation

Guest Feature – A Modern Day Slave Plantation Exists, and It’s Thriving in the Heart of America – Part 1

This post is part of a 3 day Special Feature Post on ThePBSblog, located under our Articles  and Guest Feature section. The author’s name is Laura Dimon. Laura graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2013. She has been published in the Economist, the Atlantic, and the Daily Beast. I ran across her article on the Prison system and its striking similarity to the Slavery Plantation and thought I’d share it here. However, it is  a lengthy article so I will be breaking it down into 3 separate post to give you room to process the information. I will also wait until after this series (Friday 10/17/14) before adding my own commentary, though you may comment after each segment as you wish.

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It was 1972. Thousands of American troops were battling communist forces in Vietnam. Nixon had won re-election by a landslide, but Watergate would soon usher in his demise. Space travel and technology were advancing rapidly.
Change was brewing across America, but one place stood still, frozen in time: Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola. When Robert King arrived that year, he felt as though he’d stepped into the past.

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Angola sits 50 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. It’s the largest maximum-security facility in the United States and one of the country’s most notorious prisons. In the book The Life and Legend of Leadbelly, the authors wrote, “Tough criminals allegedly broke down when they received a sentence to Angola. … None of them wanted to be sent to a prison where 1 of every 10 inmates annually received stab wounds and which routinely seethed with black-white confrontations.”

 
Angola’s expanse covers a vast 28 square miles — larger than the size of Manhattan. Tucked away in a bend of the Mississippi River, it’s surrounded by water and swamp on three sides. It’s an isolated penal village — the nearest town 30 miles away — and it’s the only penitentiary in the country where staff members live on site. Generation after generation grow up, live and die on Angola’s land.

 

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When King, now 71, arrived at Angola, his first impression of it was that it resembled a slave plantation, he said. And it used to be just that. Its name is derived from the home country of the slaves who used to work the land. Today, the comparison remains sadly accurate: Inmates are disproportionately black. They’re forced into hard labor and monitored closely by armed white staff on horseback. There is a sex slave trade behind the bars and many black inmates are deprived of basic constitutional rights. King landed a tough lot in life: He was born black in Louisiana in 1942. In his 2008 book From the Bottom of the Heap, he wrote, “I was born in the U.S.A. Born black, born poor. Is it any wonder that I have spent most of my life in prison?” He went to Angola when he was 18 for a murder he did not commit and remained there for 31 years, 29 of which he spent in solitary confinement, before he was finally freed in 2001.

*Note: Image Credits: AP, Peter Puna, Robert King