Yesterday the Mississippi House killed a very promising special ed ESA bill that was extremely close to adoption. Were it not for a few Republican legislators switching their votes at the last minute, the ESA would be law. The Clarion Ledger has the blow by blow, including reaction from incredibly disappointed parents. For me, this quote from the story takes the cake:
Rep. Tom Weathersby, R-Florence, was one of the Republicans voting against the measure despite the support of the GOP House leadership.
“I want to do everything I can to help students with special needs,” Weathersby said. “But I feel like in our school districts we are capable of handling most of those needs. Some of our people in the public school system saw it more as a voucher bill than a special needs bill. Maybe at some point in the future that bill can be amended in a way that we can get some positive effects out of it.”
I live in Arkansas, so I speak a bit of southern and can attempt a translation. In southern-ese when someone begins a statement with “I am not saying X, Y and Z…” whatever comes out after the statement in fact reveals their true attitude. Similar to understanding the vagaries of the Japanese use of the word “hi” this is a very important source of cultural confusion for those not fortunate enough to have lived in the south. A similar phenomenon may be at play with this quote.
I want to do everything I can to help students with special needs translates to “I don’t want to be seen as throwing special needs kids under the bus but sometimes ‘everything I can’ has a variable rather than an absolute meaning. In this case it means ‘everything but this.'”
But I feel like in our school districts we are capable of handling most of those needs translates to “I am going to ignore the 23% graduation rate for special needs children that the Clarion Ledger identified as an unaddressed problem for decades. Maybe it will get better on its own. Look- squirrel!!!!”
Some of our people in the public school system saw it more as a voucher bill than a special needs bill translates to “I allow public school interests to frame K-12 issues for me. They were afraid of this and I am afraid of them.”
Maybe at some point in the future that bill can be amended in a way that we can get some positive effects out of it. This one is tricky because it mixes in some legislator-ese with southern-ese. A decent translation might be “perhaps we can pass some watered down something next session that the public school interests don’t feel threatened by so we can sing kumbaya and at least pretend that we have addressed a sickening problem.”