Gov. Sarah Palin on Disabilities

By Christina A. Samuels — August 29, 2008 1 min read
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No matter which party wins the White House this fall, it’ll be making history: the Democrats would be able to claim the first African-American president, and the Republicans could have the first female vice president.

Edweek’s Campaign K-12 blog has a entry on Gov. Sarah Palin’s education bonafides.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to Education Week’s web story on the selection, which delves more deeply into her education record.

Most intriguing for my professional interests is that Palin, a 44-year-old self-described “hockey mom,” PTA leader-turned-mayor-turned-governor, is also the mother of a 5-month-old with Down syndrome. (She has four other children, ages 18 to 7.)

Down syndrome is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities; about one in every 733 babies is born with it. The syndrome causes varying degrees of cognitive delays, and also has some physical effects, like low muscle tone and congenital heart defects.

The conservative National Review praises McCain’s choice in an online column. One blog issued a challenge to Palin a few months ago, asking her to embrace health and education issues for children with disabilities.

There’s the possibility that just the very fact of her selection could provide needed education and sensitivity among the public--although her son would probably get more attention if he were a little bit older. He looked supremely unaware during her mother’s introduction to the public in Dayton, Ohio, today, snoozing peacefully in the arms of one of his sisters.

Then again, blogger Patricia Bauer said she already heard little Trig referred to as a “Down syndrome child.” Ugh. Sensitivity has a ways to go.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.