By Kodey Toney
In the past few years I have tried to catch up on some of the "classics" in popular culture. This includes reading some great books that have come to be those "you've-never-read-that" type of books. I've also tried to see some movies that are in the top 100 of all time. While these are not always my cup of tea, I do find some that I think, "This is why it's a classic."
So when I finally watched the 1959 movie "12 Angry Men" this week I truly loved it. It's a great story, great cast, and still relative today.
Some of you are probably thinking, "Great review, but what does this have to do with parenting a child with a disability?" I kept thinking as I watched this movie how much it related to the issues we have everyday as advocates for our children. In fact it reminded me of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.
For those who have never watched this movie, it's about a jury that deliberates, and only one man believes that the kid on trial is innocent. He slowly begins to present evidence to change the other juror's minds one at a time. Things get heated, there are stubborn jurors that are harder to convince, but as they learn more and more about the situation at hand they realize how close-minded they have been, and change their minds.
As they talk, remember this was filmed in 1959, they use words like "these people" and "I've known a couple that were okay". While they were talking about the social and racial status of the defendant, I think this nails the mentality of many of the people if sat in IEP meetings with. This includes educators and parents. They have that same mentality that I've talked about in the past. We assume that a child with autism, or any disability, cannot function in a mainstream classroom before we even try. The problem is that our minds are already biased, so even if we try to work with them in the classroom we're not trying to find the positives to allow them to stay with their peers, we're already looking for reasons to move them to a secluded classroom. This erks me to no end. That is not the least restrictive environment that the law talks about.
As Juror #8 Henry Fonda says, "Prejudice always obscures the truth." How profound. When you enter that room with prejudice you are not looking for truth. You are only looking for evidence to prove your point.
We should be looking for every reason to keep a child in the classroom, not discriminate and sentence them to a lifetime of seclusion. We have to work to convince the team members one at a time that our children can function in the classroom.