Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Perspective on "Perspectives"

I received a copy of a magazine titled “Oregon Perspectives” in the mail this afternoon. This is the 2nd issue of this magazine that has been mailed to me in the last 3 months. This one has a shiny glossed cover both on the front and back. The photos on both covers are beautifully illustrated in vibrant colors. We’re talking fancy. Inside were pretty light green background pages with several photos of both adults and children, along with accompanying articles regarding inclusive education for students with developmental disabilities. This must have been expensive to create and mail out. It lists the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities as publisher.

This is the strange part. The system supporting people having developmental disabilities in our state is woefully underfunded. During every legislative session you will find the entire DD community rallying in Salem to ask for more dollars to fund programs and services. In fact, many of the people whose photos and articles appear in this magazine lead these desperate charges. They know first hand how difficult life is in a system where each dollar comes far and few between. Why are they spending money on a Rolls Royce magazine at the same time people with developmental disabilities are suffering all over this state? It makes no sense.

Another perplexity around this issue of the magazine is its subject matter. Down at the bottom of the front cover it says “Inclusive Education” is the focus of this edition. These folks know there are far more adults with developmental disabilities being excluded from real participation in their communities than there are children with developmental disabilities in the schools in our state. Adults with developmental disabilities are excluded in employment, safe and affordable housing, recreational opportunities, a viable transportation system, and socially. They are kept in abject poverty through arcane rules around not being allowed more than $2000 in resources for fear of losing their Medicaid. Does this struggle really need to take a back seat to education; one part of a whole person’s life? Don't get me wrong. I believe inclusive education is very important, I just believe that a discussion about "inclusion" should transcend age.

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun here, and the next issue will be about how adults with developmental disabilities have their civil and human rights violated in Oregon daily. And maybe a less expensive “Oregon Perspectives” will be sent out, with the savings going toward improving lives. Somehow I doubt it.

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