Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kristina Chew just doesn't get the message

I see once again Kristina Chew is railing for her son's educational future, by demanding that he receive "the best" level of education that can be offered. In the days when Chew was blogging on autism vox she also trotted out this fallacious argument that her son was entitled to "the best" (her words) education that could be obtained for him.

Legally this is a fallacious argument. In the Rowley case in 1982 the supreme court determined that the words "free and appropriate education" did not mean "best" It is described on this website Here is some of the wording :

The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals' decision, finding that the IDEA (then known as the EHA - Education Handicapped Act) did not require schools to proportionally maximize the potential of handicapped children. Rather, the Court said, Congress had more modest goals in mind. The Supreme Court relied upon the text and legislative history of the statute to find that Congressional intent was only to provide a "basic floor of opportunity" to students with disabilities by providing them access to public education, as opposed to addressing the quality of education received once in school.[10] The Court stated:
By passing the Act, Congress sought primarily to make public education available to handicapped children. But in seeking to provide such access to public education, Congress did not impose upon the States any greater substantive educational standard than would be necessary to make such access meaningful …
Thus, the intent of the Act was more to open the door of public education to handicapped children on appropriate terms than to guarantee any particular level of education once inside.[11]


So we see that Kristina Chew is asking the school district for something that she is not legally entitled to receive under special education law. What is surprising is that this is one of the most famous examples of case law that was decided by the supreme court. One wonders about the quality of special ed attorneys Ms. Chew has and what sort of advice they are giving her in terms of pursuing an education for her son and what she should say in IEP meetings. Because of the Rowley decision back in 1982 special education lawyers often advise their clients not to use the word "best" because of the Rowley decision. I don't know what sort of services her son Charlie receives, but one reason they may be less than satisfactory is that Ms. Chew exercises such bad judgment from a legal standpoint.

What is most surprising of all is that in the days when she was blogging on autism vox prior to her moving over to change.org, she would often trot out this same fallacious argument. Time and time again I posted comments on her blog advising her that she was factually incorrect about the law and advising her of what the law under IDEA really is. In spite of this she never seemed to listen and now is posting this same nonsense again in her latest post.

This is a woman who has claimed to me that she is satisfied with the functioning level of her son and that she has no desire to cure him. She claimed on national television that she was not suffering or heartbroken because of her son's condition. This is in spite of the fact that she has used ABA on her son, a treatment that purports to cure nearly 50% of all autistics. She has given her son dangerous psychiatric medications to control his behavior. In one recent blog entry she talked about the possibility of her son having to live in a residential placement. For this reason I suppose nothing she says should surprise me as is the case with most neurodiversity proponents.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, its a parent's responsibility to obtain the best possible education for their children. I'm not sure what point your trying to make here? Should she just give up?

jonathan said...

no, if you reread the post, the point is, parents are not legally entitled to the best education under the law. They have to ask for something that is appropriate. If there is something they believe is best, it is bad strategy from a legal standpoint to say you believe this is the best option.

Actually, by publically blogging about such things, Ms. Chew is really hurting her own cause, as the school district could use this against her at IEP meetings and in litigation.

SM69 said...

I have been involved in a court case regarding my son’s education against Edinburgh City council- it was at a time when I was educating him at home as I had not other choice but to take him off the school system, precisely because less than adequate education was provided for him. I had a very strong case, legal aid, everything, but the law was not enabling me to complete an entirely justified action, from an ethical point of view. The expert advocate (top one in Scotland) eventually asked me to stop and get on with the fact my son would not get the best and was autistic. I was totally distraught by this decision, I still remember cycling home crying all the way. I was dismayed, I could not believe this. I gave up as I had no other choice, but I swore that I will continue to provide or work towards proving what is best, not just for him but for all the other kids like him. The law should be changed. Unfortunately in the mean time, a new bill was passed in Scotland, that was in 2004, which weakened further any actions parents could take. Currently the LEA (local education authorities) is not obliged to provide any assessments that are needed to identify a child’s need. If they do and find that the child requires only one type of services (e.g. speech and language therapy because the child has autism), well, the child no longer should receive what is called here a coordinated support plan that is a legal document outlining the child’s need and necessary provisions. Two or more agencies are needed for that document to be opened. Most kids with ASD are no longer entitled to have it, same is true of dyslexia. That’s quite incredibly convenient for the LEA, a big money saver no doubt. If parents manage to have a CSP, and enter in a dispute with the LEA, well, legal aid can no longer be obtained. In other words, no financial support to fight legally for what you child needs, a fight that most parents cannot afford. I mean how worse could a set of legal governmental regulations become?!!! Almost no parents were aware of the changes taking place and only a minority of people were consulted when the draft bill was first published. With a few parents we held meetings after meetings and organized various street protests, press reports, lobbied the MSPs, but nothing could change this. I don’t think we should put up with laws that are unsupportive, any child deserve the best and kids with ASD even more so, because their needs maximal chance to access to their fullest potentials. And it makes a lot of difference what type of education and support they receive. In their case, it can make all the difference between copying, or even succeeding and failing very badly.

Foresam said...

The sum total of Chew's knowledge about autism must have come from a fortune cookie.

Ender said...

As opposed to your knowledge which came from a fortune teller.

Joseph said...

If that's not nitpicking, I don't know what is.

It would be much worse, as Larry put it, to think life owes you the "American Dream."

Anonymous said...

Well from the sounds of it she hasn't done a very effective job. From what people say about her blog she writes that he is on lots of meds and is in a vocational school. Her world is also very, very small because she caves into his "neurological storms" as she calls them. It sounds like he has never in his life had an effective education.

Anonymous said...

What is truly shocking is that she is posting on her blog (in the past and as recently as today) all about having two residences, living in her old house yet sending him to school in the other district, and so on. I hope her old school district does not see those posts as it is very illegal to claim residency in one town while living in another town and it is also illegal under the law to move to a district or claim a district as yours just so the child can attend their program. Wow. What in the world is wrong with her? Why is she tempting fate and giving her old district and the law the middle finger? Not smart. At all.

Anonymous said...

Kristina Chew is all talk and no action for her kid. He certainly does not have the best education as she claims she demands-sounds good for her blog though. As a matter of fact she has written on her blog that she allows 3-4 person restraints on him, permits the school to shove an ancient helmet on him, imagine how humiliating that must be for him, and it sounds like the poor child has no real academic or cognitive goals in his IEP. Maybe she should get off her blog and actually advocate for his education before he is 21 years old.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, kudos to you for taking her to task on this. She talks out both sides of her mouth plus her as* it seems. In the end I think she dumped her son in some deadbeat placement so none of what she says really matters in the end anyway.

-Barbara

Anonymous said...

Chew really is amazing isn't she? She writes this story on Care2 and she claims she is shocked. Um, what the moron doesn't realize is that she's not much better. She yet again admits she moved to another town for services (which is not legal) and also admits she went between two towns. Also, not legal. This woman is beyond the definition of stupidity. Too bad one of her districts didn't question her motives!

"I read about this story on Thursday and it's been bothering me ever since. Garrett Lew, Dickstein's attorney, says that the 'couple got overwhelmed as they worked with the many intricacies involved in securing care for their son.'

Big sigh.

I certainly understand feeling that way in trying to find good therapists and programs for my son, and in paying for them. At one point we rented an apartment in another town so Charlie could attend a public autism school program there, all while we were still paying for our house in a different town. Charlie has a lot of needs and we always want to provide him with the best, to help him achieve as much as he can, to be healthy and happy. We've had to tighten our belts, so to speak, and scrimp and I know we're not at all alone among families with kids like Charlie who do the same. (Certainly, we were fortunate that we were able to juggle rent + mortgage for a time, though it was not at all easy.)"

Anonymous said...

Chew and her husband are literally held prisoner to their son's aggressive behavior. He pitches a fit and throws food at a restaurant? No problem, they just won't go to restaurants any more. He freaks out in crowded streets? No biggie, they just won't go into Manhattan any more. Meanwhile, the kid is learning that he can manipulate his parents by screaming and banging his head.
Despite boasting about being a classics professor, Chew's use of grammar leaves a lot to be desired. I guess they didn't teach basic grammar at Princeton. While that's not going to hurt her son, failing to teach him that the world isn't going to cater to his whims will.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the commenter above. It's amazing how Chew and her husband are so obviously terrified of this child and his meltdowns, because they have created a monster by demanding nothing out of him, but they have convinced themselves that all is well. They have created a world for him where he really does nothing but ride his bike because that's where they know he won't have a tantrum. Charlie runs the house, their world, their thoughts and determines every move they make. That folks is pathetic and is painting him into his autism corner even more. It is very clear they have obviously given up on him in any cognitive way and could care less what his school does for him in these domains which is so unfortunate for Charlie. He rules their world and unless he can bike for the rest of his life his will be a very sad and lonely one. They have done him no favors but letting him "be" just to keep that "peaceful easy feeling" AKA "we're terrified of his tantrums." These two think they are so savy when really they have to be the most ignorant pair ever.

Anonymous said...

May I also Chew's writing speaks volumes about the low quality her bottom level university in Jersey City employs. Her use of grammar is terrible and her thoughts ramble and are all over the place. The woman sounds like she has some sort of ADD or bipolar disorder. She really does.