Thoughts On Education
This is in response to the letter to the editor from Delegate Wayne Hartman.
Hooray Wayne Hartman, I have been reading about the Kirwan Commission in the newspapers.
My first thought was the administration and the teachers need to be able to reasonably discipline students to achieve accountability and respect. Throwing money at the problems in our schools is not the whole answer. Vocational training is much needed; a required curriculum for teaching financial literacy; limiting classroom size; and rewarding continuing education for teachers such as a Master’s degree in one or more areas are part of the answer.
And then there is the funding which is unknown.
Mary A. LeMay
Awareness Is First Step
This March we celebrate the 33rd Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued a public proclamation that called on all Americans to provide individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities “the encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and achieve their full potential.”
As a country, we’ve certainly become more aware of the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the last three decades. That awareness has helped us make progress in providing opportunities and supports needed to lead the lives they want, consistent with President Reagan’s call. However, awareness is just the first step. This month and beyond, I urge every American to truly embrace the intrinsic value of the lives of all of our brothers and sisters.
For example, greater awareness has led to more creative housing options for people with disabilities, moving from institutions to smaller group homes, plus shared living (integration with a new family) and supported living environments. But we truly value people when we empower their choice to be part of our neighborhoods and communities.
The numbers show why that doesn’t happen as much as it should. More than 6 million Americans have an intellectual or developmental disability. Just less than 1 million of them are living with a family member over the age of 60, according to The ARC. Even if otherwise able to be out on their own, many people with disabilities simply can’t afford a safe, quality home for themselves. In fact, those who rely on Supplemental Security Income have incomes averaging about $9,000 a year. That won’t pay for security deposits, furnishings, moving expenses and other costs of living.
A lack of meaningful jobs makes things worse. The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities ended 2019 at 33.3 percent, less than half the 76.9 percent for people without disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This prices people with disabilities out of the housing market and ensures they do not have real choice on where and with whom to live.
Providing jobs is critical. But we can do more, and truly value people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by also providing supports and services that help them identify their skills and passions, and giving them the tools to craft a career. This gives people the economic power to become consumers and exercise real choice in the marketplace.
And, by exercising real choice, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can choose the community in which they want to live, work, play and worship. For many people, an important part of leading a full life is being welcomed into a faith community. In fact, 84 percent of people with disabilities say their faith is important to them yet only 45 percent attend a place of worship at least monthly, according to the Collaborative on Faith & Disability. Making it convenient for people with disabilities to visit houses of worship is a good start. We demonstrate how we value people when we encourage and welcome them to be leaders and true members of congregations in all our communities.
I encourage everyone to be inspired by Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Use the month as a springboard to a lifelong commitment to valuing and including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as integral parts of our communities. You will be amazed at how much richer all our lives will be.
Mike Thirtle, Ph.D.
(The writer is president and CEO of Bethesda, a nonprofit organization providing services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the U.S.)
Paid Ad Was Not Clear
As a longtime reader and subscriber to the Coast Dispatch, I have always found the content to be informative and unbiased. The paper serves an essential purpose in informing residents, vacationers and Ocean City enthusiasts 52 weeks a year.
The print media derives much of its revenue from advertising. As we all navigate through the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, it is important that we as readers patronize the businesses that advertise in this paper. Revenue most certainly will be reduced, and the survival of the paper depends on continued relationships with various businesses.
With that being said, I was very disturbed as I read the March 13, 2020 addition. On page 20, there was an announcement to come view a movie at a local church and participate in a discussion afterwards. The verbiage was quite inflammatory and really raised the eyebrows. I took notice, and decided to investigate the movie, and the “Filmmaker”. While I refuse to state his name for not wanting to give him publicity, it did not take long to see he was included as an advocate of hate speech and a dangerous person according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
I absolutely believe in the Freedom of Speech and Press as outlined in The First Amendment to our Constitution. If The Dispatch found this piece suitable for print that is up to Mr. Green and his staff. However, the article in question could have easily appeared to some as a news article, which if so, is clearly disturbing. Maybe it should have been in the Community Events Calendar.
If it was a paid advertisement, it should certainly have been listed as so, as the paper has done in the past. Nothing in The Dispatch that is not news, should ever be confused as such. I hope any similar future pieces, if a paid advertisement, will be clearly identified as so.
Crofton and Ocean City
Women’s Rights Support
Despite a majority of Americans’ support for women’s right to choose — a decision set by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago — attempts to diminish abortion rights for women remain relentless. A Pew Research report from 2019 found that upwards of 60% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
However, anti-abortion activists around the country have passed a variety of state laws making it increasingly difficult for women to end their pregnancies. One strategy has been to pursue state-wide, medically unnecessary, gestational bans. In other words, women would not be allowed to have abortions, a constitutional right, once their pregnancies have progressed to a certain length of time after their last menstrual periods. Bans have been proposed for as short a period as six weeks, often before women may even know they are pregnant.
Environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, have been involved in protecting women against these bans. Environmental groups focus their efforts on creating a world in which all humans can live in safe, healthy environments. Comprehensive reproductive health care is essential to that goal. Reproductive freedom is thus considered a basic human right.
Lack of control over the timing of childbearing interferes with an individual’s ability to pursue educational, economic, and social opportunities. Women without means are the victims in these scenarios and are less likely to have adequate resources to care for children once they are born; low-income people are also subject to living in areas with more environmental hazards (close to incinerators, coal plants, etc.).
In contrast, wealthy women have always been able to gain access to pregnancy termination services and will continue to do so regardless of increasing restrictions on abortion. In addition, those with means are able to raise their families in healthy, safe communities. There is growing recognition that environmental issues are inextricably linked to issues like gender and economic inequality. It is important that we reject intrusive measures that presume to understand the challenges others face. Instead, we must provide access to safe, legal and affordable family planning for all who seek it.
Reproductive justice, economic justice and environmental justice are three inexplicably tied movements. The right to choose if, when and how we become pregnant cannot be separated from the right to raise those families in healthy, safe environments and afford all the basic life necessities.