When I started talking about #UnacceptableExample, I wasn’t sure what results to expect. As word spread and parents responded, it became clear that change would be necessary. Lily Eskelsen García would HAVE to respond to this level of criticism. Eventually, she did respond. She offered an apology. Some accepted and moved on. Some doubted her sincerity. Disability leaders met with her, and wrote to her requesting specific changes in order to bring the NEA up to speed on how to serve the disability community and undo the damage done by her words.
Today, the National Down Syndrome Congress sent out an email saying that their requests have not been met.
Recently Ms. Garcia responded with a letter that did not directly address our request for a Disability Stakeholder Advisory Committee. You can see her response here. The letter outlines other work that the NEA does that relates to special education, but primarily from the perspective of special educators and administrators. She mentions nothing that comes close to the meaningful input a Disability Stakeholder Advisory Committee would provide to help NEA understand the parent and self-advocate perspective. We believe no policy, program, or practice should be put in place regarding people with disabilities without substantial participation from those with disabilities and the organizations that represent them.
Disability groups, including NDSC, will continue to look for ways to collaborate with NEA. However, we believe the request for a Disability Stakeholder Advisory Committee would be taken more seriously if it came from NEA members. Therefore, we encourage all parents, family members, and friends who are NEA members to contact Ms. Garcia about this issue and ask your colleagues to do the same. Make sure to identify yourself as an NEA member!
Ms. Garcia’s address is:
Ms. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President
National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Can we allow Mrs. Garcia and the NEA to ignore the voices of over 40 disability rights groups? Did she succeed in shutting us up only to go back to “business as usual.”
Whether you think her words were taken out of context or she deliberately slandered disabled students – whether you accept her apology or think it was a PR spin designed to address the wildfire that developed on social media – she promised to listen to the disability community and work with us to make things better.
Let’s make her honor that commitment.
.@Lily_NEA Honor your commitment to the disability community #UnacceptableExample @NEAToday #DisabilityStakeholderAdvisoryCommittee
— Lily Eskelsen García (@Lily_NEA) January 13, 2016
In a blog post Mrs. Garcia wrote today, she talks about the State of the Union and how she interpreted the President’s words. She wrote:
“There is nothing that will be accomplished without our demanding it. Making that demand is not simply our right. It is our work. It is our duty.
The President reminded us that we are as powerful as we choose to be.”
We – the people with disabilities, their friends and family – are demanding the respect owed to us.
Yes, the President IS right.
His words were for ALL of us.
We. The People with disabilities, their friends & family demand the respect owed us. @Lily_NEA #UnacceptableExample