Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Please Be Outraged With Me

From the Tennessee Disability Coalition, a blog post by Todd Hash (February 2010):

In this post, Todd makes these key points regarding the proposed bill allowing special education students in Tennessee to be placed in locked isolation rooms as a means of discipline/control:

1. This bill would make it legal to lock special education students---of any age or diagnosis---in isolation at risk to their health and safety.

2. This bill contradicts health and safety codes that prohibit locking students in an educational facility without a way out.

3. With a locked door, a student is trapped with no mechanism to call for help if they are forgotten by school personnel.

4. This bill places all special education students at risk of locked isolation.

Then Todd adds: "This would undo years of work that outlawed locking students with Autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, and other disabilities in isolation rooms."

I am a pretty easy-going gal, but let me tell you, if anyone ever tried to lock Hopey or Charlie in an isolation room for any reason, there would be heck to pay. Non-vocal, Hope and Charlie would not have the ability to tell me about being locked up; and in addition, they would not have the ability to understand why they were being mistreated. This would not be discipline, this would be abuse! How many Hope and Charlie cases are in Tennessee? How many children would be victimized by reckless legislation such as this?

"Whatever you do for the LEAST OF THESE, you do it for Me." As believers, Jesus instructs us to take care of the disabled, not put them in restraints and lock them in isolation. This bill has been the catalyst for my running for State Senate in my district. Our current senator, Johnson, is the one who proposed the latest bill: 2517. As you are aware, I was too late to enter as a party candidate and get on the November ballot, so I am the grassroots write-in candidate flying in on a wing and a prayer. How in the world am I going to get thousands of district 23 residents to go to the polls and WRITE my name on a ballot??? God help me.

I spent the day ordering political business cards, post cards, etc. I am way out of my league in this effort, but I have a burning passion inside of me that is pushing me to stand and be a voice for the LEAST OF THESE. When looking through the slew of bills in Tennessee this afternoon, I also found a couple of proposed bills that appear to make the adoption process MORE bogged down than it already is in TN. Hello? Why do our legislators not understand that our Foster Care system is already so overloaded with cases that neglected children are falling through the cracks each day? As an adoptive mom, this is another hot bed issue for me. Where is the common sense, and where is the compassion?

Please feel free to give me advice of any kind. If you have contacts that would benefit me in this monumental effort, I want to know about them. If you have ideas, I want to hear them. If you know Sarah Palin, please get me in touch with her (smile). How about a country music star that has a heart for the special needs community or adoption community? That would be amazing. Thank you for all the supportive emails and prayers. My journey with Hope has taken me alot of places....I praise the Lord for choosing me to be her momma (and Charlie's too).

Hope, Charlie, and momma bear are gonna take the fight to 'em.


  1. Wow. That is insane. Makes me wonder what MY state has on the books regarding special needs students.

    I hope you don't mind me sharing this, but I've been working on local campaigns (like yours) since I was 9 years old. (My family has always been very involved in local politics) This is the model we have followed and it may or may not work for you, so take or leave as much or all of it, as you wish. And you may have already heard about all of this, so if I'm being redundant, I apologize. I think you have a great opportunity and have half the battle won - you have a mission, and are not just trying to "win your first election so you can win another election..." which so many people do nowadays. My best advice, based on my own experience, is to keep in mind that you just committed yourself (and your family) to a full-time job. By being a write-in candidate, you have to do more than anyone else running. Weekends, evenings, you need to be out in your district, knocking doors and passing out flyers and meeting people. If there is a community event where they let people rent booths or set up stalls - get one! The first step I suggest you consider is printing up handouts with your mission statement and brief personal info and get into the neighborhoods in your district and meet people. What we have done is to get a map of your district with streets labeled, break it up into sections and say, "Okay, this week our goal is to knock out sections 4, 5, and 6" and spend what free time you have going door-to-door meeting people and talking with them about who you are and why you are running. That will go a lot farther than putting signs up or doing a mailout. When people meet you and hear your passion and your drive, it will connect them to you personally.

    And my #1 piece of advice? DON'T PAY ANYONE. When the career campaign consultants find out about you and find out you are a fresh face wanting to run, don't be surprised if you get "offers" to help coordinate your campaign. 9 times out of 10, they are also helping to coordinate a campaign elsewhere in the city for a candidate whose principles are the opposite of yours. And they will charge you an arm and a leg. You don't need them as long as you are willing to work hard.

    Okay, sorry, that turned out much longer than I had intended. I am just so excited that you are running and I really, really hope you succeed, even though it's not in my state. All that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing, and I am so excited you are wanting to make a difference, a real difference in your community.

    In that note, I don't know if I have any readers in your area, but on the off chance I do, would you be open to writing up a kind of bio and mission statement and letting my plug you on my blog and/or facebook? We grassroots activists need to stick together! :)

  2. FACEBOOK FAN PAGE!!! The Down syndrome community of Facebook is OUTRAGED about this. I'm sure that would help with your visability.

  3. I will pray about this & all I can really offer (since I'm British & don't understand US politics) is I could help if you need any design work done (free). I could also set up a website if you need. Just let me know.

  4. Hi, my name is Stephanie DeFalco, and I work for the Oklahoma Family Network. I also have a 4 year old typical chld and a 15 month old with Down syndrome. I recently helped a deaf mother with a "problem" with the special needs teacher at their school. I have some ideas that might help you. If you would like to frined me on facebook, I'll send you my phone number. Stephanie searcy-Defalco