Special, but Equal?

Special, but Equal?

Special, but Equal?

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Nov. 15 2005 7:02 PM

Special, but Equal?

Bloggers debate a Supreme Court ruling about special education; they also wonder whether a Scottish man managed to exorcise AIDS from his body and get behind a call to champion Web browser Firefox.

Special, but equal?: The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that if parents dislike a school's special-education plan for their child, it's up to them to prove that the plan is inadequate. (Read the decision's text here.)

Many are using the opportunity to discuss special-ed programs they view as wasteful. "I'm sympathetic to the plight of special-ed students and their parents, but there has to be some measure of sanity in the system. … Both schools I taught at had a full-time certified special ed teacher who did nothing but IEPS, ARDs, meet with parents and teachers, hold hearings, and the like. She taught no classes," claimsMotherthink's Heather, a former teacher. "While it is good that schools try to reach disabled children, some of these parents live in La-La-Land demanding more than just education but unreasonable demands that can drain funds from other students," notes conservative Don Surber. "In my home county, we have four middle schools. Instead of sending disabled children to one, the state Supreme Court ruled there is a right to attend any one of them. This means special ed facilities in all four."

Advertisement

Others aren't convinced by the Supreme Court's decision. "I have mixed emotions about this, as someone who has advocated for my kids in special education (but never to the point of going to court). … It seems ridiculous to me that a school district can't, at the snap of a finger, produce evidence that a student's program is appropriate," comments Terri on Blogging Baby. She goes on to argue that it's not difficult for parents to "put together a convincing argument for why it's not appropriate." Writes Like She Talks' Jill Miller Zimon, a writer, opines, "Education is not a zero-sum endeavor and this ruling will negatively affect the always precarious nature of balancing public school resources between all its responsibilities." Palamedes, commenting on Just a Bump on the Beltway, writes, "[W]hile I side with the teachers on this decision, realize that school districts aren't always going to think such issues through in the students' best interest."

Legally-minded bloggers are scrutinizing the Supreme Court's pronouncement. Manateechik, an attorney, lauds the dissents: "In California the burden is on the party bringing the action, almost always the parent. I wasn't even aware that it different in some districts. I never even considered it an issue until I read Justice Ginsburg's dissent, and it really made sense to me and made me think." And SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston points out, "The parents, however, would not have the burden of proof, the school would, if school officials seek relief in an administrative hearing, the opinion stressed."

Read more about the case.

Unacquiring AIDS? In 2002, Andrew Stimpson, a 25-year-old Scottish man, tested positive for AIDS. Stimpson refused treatment and attempted to sue the testing agency for producing a wrong result. In 2003, when the same agency tested him again, Stimpson tested negative. The BBC quotes Stimpson as saying, "I am just one person who managed to … survive from it" and suggests that he has refused further tests. But the London Times claims Stimson "has agreed to undergo further tests with doctors to identify exactly what has happened."

Advertisement

Some wonder whether Stimpson may hold a key to defeating AIDS."It would certainly be wonderful news if the Stimpson case turns out to be accurate. Hopefully there will be more tests that provide additional information," warblesHealth News Blog. AIDS Combat Zone's Brad, a public health student, cautions, "Even if Mr. Stimpson has a unique genetic advantage against HIV, it's going to require a lot of time and study to figure out what exactly that is.… If Andrew Stimpson is our salvation against AIDS, we won't know it for many years to come."

Many are skeptical. Liberal Dean Esmay uses the Stimpson case as an opportunity to doubt the severity of AIDS in Africa. Orac Knows' Orac, a "surgeon/scientist," insists, "[T]he most likely explanation is still that the first test was a false positive…[T]he man's original blood sample is still around, it should be retested." Corante's Derek Lowe, who works in pharmaceuticals, asserts, "I am not inclined to believe any claim such as his, to put it mildly, until he's been poked and prodded from every angle."

Read more about Andrew Stimpson.

Browser wars: Some are excited about Kill Bill's Browser and Explorer Destroyer, Web sites that encourage people to switch from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox.

Several Web-designers are wholeheartedly supportive. "Do I hate IE? YES! With all their resources, money, talented people you would think that for ONCE they would bring out a product that conformed to every agreed upon standard," exclaimsThe English Guy. " … After using IE for a while I switched to FireFox at the earliest opportunity, when it was in Beta, and haven't looked back since." Some advocate ditching Internet Explorer—and also Mozilla—in favor of yet another browser, Opera. "[I]f the kill bill browser is firefox, the kill bill 2 browser is opera," claimsCrazy Scriblings' Madhu Venkatesan, a Web designer.

Read more about Firefox vs. Explorer.

Got a question, comment, or suggestion? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.