Special Education Letter to the Editor

Coddling Children Prevents Failures—and Successes

September 23, 2014 1 min read
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To the Editor:

American educators face an epidemic of excuses. Educators have always come to expect excuses, but now we tell them to accept them.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a case in point. Like most big ideas, the IDEA stemmed from the best of intentions. Help kids who really need help. At some point, however, the idea started helping too many kids avoid failure.

For two years, I taught 8th grade history in eastern Tennessee. And for almost 10 years now, I have acted as a school attorney for systems throughout the same region. I have seen and worked with special-needs children who require modified instruction and specialized treatment. I am proud to live in a country that refuses to cast those students aside.

Yet we do not help children in need by overestimating their numbers. Most kids do not suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or Asperger’s syndrome, or separation-anxiety disorder, or any number of other legitimate issues. Most children do not warrant the IDEA’s protection. Most children need more failure and less help.

Frederick Douglass, who knew something about hardship, is quoted as having said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” We cannot expect broken men and women to keep this country strong. We cannot expect strong men and women when we keep producing coddled children.

Chris W. McCarty

Lewis, Thomason, King, Krieg & Waldrop, PC

Knoxville, Tenn.

A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2014 edition of Education Week as Coddling Children Prevents Failures—and Successes


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