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More (lack of) Political Correctness

Johnny’s Such a Bright Boy, What a Shame He’s Retarded: In Support of Mainstreaming in Public Schools

Ms. Long was obviously an authority on this topic in 1977.  Her award (stated on the front cover) is  prestigious, for sure.  Sorry, though, it’s not 1977 any more.  In 2009, this title is unacceptable.  Even if the book has great advice about mainstreaming, public libraries just can’t have something this old.  Even if public schools today have gotten no further in mainstreaming (here’s hoping they have!), this is not the book for today’s parents and teachers.  University libraries, however,  may have a reason to keep this.


0 Responses to More (lack of) Political Correctness

  • I thought the term ‘retarded’ was completely derogatory as far back as 1990 — at least! I don’t know when mainstreaming began, but this book should’ve been weeded quite a while ago.

  • The laws have regarding the education of children with special needs have changed several times since 1977. One of the first major laws, the education for all handicapped children act,was passed in 1975, which is most likely what this book discusses. The act has been changed three times since then, and has been called the individuals with disabilities education act since 1990. While the laws have changed significantly, the term used is still mental retardation.

    • Where are they using the term mental retardation on education? The term used is cognitive impairment and has been the norm for some time. I can’t imagine any school or IEP using the term mental retardation. If they are, they are about 10 years behind.

      • Well, we still use it in New York State. See http://www.omr.state.ny.us/
        I’m not saying NYS isn’t 10 years behind, but we ARE a pretty big state.

      • “Retarded” is still the term used in Virginia public schools. I’d imagine it’s common in other areas as well.

      • Are some people here internalizing a term such as ‘mental retardation’ as a description for a disease/impairment with that of the term ‘retard’, which would be the awful term used to address or indicate and individual so inflicted? Are you taking ‘offense’ on behalf of the impairment? I assure you the impairment has no emotions. If OTOH you are offended on behalf of a person, that seems misguided. Typical in this P.C. world, but still misguided. ‘Mentally Retarded’ is an adjective, not a noun/pronoun.

    • Texas does as well. In fact, they have state-run MHMR centers, and that’s unfortunately what the MR stands for.

  • oh… oh, dear. Yeah, this needs to be pulled. No matter how good the content, if the title sounds like the meanest compliment ever… yeah.

  • This title is so bad, but so funny LOL.
    I have an award for you at my blog 🙂

  • I scrolled down slowly while reading the title of the book and burst out laughing when I got to the end. Oh my. I work in education and this would be totally unacceptable anywhere in my field.

  • I found this in a used bookstore and it makes me so wrongly happy to see it here. I knew little Johnny would end up here one day.

  • I agree with Fiona. 🙂

  • fyi, it’s 2010…

  • This book is so informative, what a shame it’s outdated.

  • You know a book is bad when its title sounds like a line taken from a Naked Gun movie.

  • Mainstreaming was working well in the 80’s. My autistic brother was mainstreamed from a special program to recieve a normal high school diploma in 1990

  • The currently accepted term is “developmentally disabled”.

  • Actually the term used now is developmentally challenged or developmentally delayed, disabled is now on the do not use list of words.

  • Some places use “intellectually challenged”, as well.

    That being said I don’t think the title was supposed to be in support of using the word retarded as the correct term. Not that this should stay on the shelf, per se, but I think they were using it as what was happening as opposed to what they’d like to happen.

  • Does it really matter what the term is? Never have understood the fascination with moving from one term to the next. Whatever term is used now will seem inappropriate in another 20 years and we will move on to another term.

    • You are so right. At one time “retarded” was considered a modern, progressive word compared to some of the slurs that were commonly used.

  • my sister, Debbie, functions on about the level of a 12-13 year old (she turns 50 this year). When she was in school the term was mentally retarded. A couple years ago she did something that anyone would have considered really dumb (one of those silly, embarrassing mistakes we all make). We all got a good laugh out of it, and then she said “Well, what did you expect, I’m retarded!”

  • Note that the title is in quotes, meaning the author probably recognizes this back-handed compliment for its condescension. Her true title is “In Support of Mainstreaming in Public Schools.” While the content might be outdated, it still might be of value to someone researching the topic, if the writer’s opinions and recommendations are enlightened and not suspect of prejudice.

  • In film school, a word taken out of context from one of the projects we were working on was deemed offensive by some group for disabled students at the school. We were then sent a several-page list of terms that people with mental or physical disabilities might find offensive, for our consideration.

    I was surprised to find we were not supposed to say “disabled”, as that could be offensive. “Handicapped” was also wrong. By the time we went through the entire list, we didn’t know what to call anyone anymore. We had to laugh. I guess there are no clear good or bad terms anymore.

    • That’s not an uncommon position to be in. It seems to be a shift from “he is” to “she has”. So Johnny isn’t disabled, he has a disability. Even that’s questionable, but it’s less likely to get anyone yelled at.

  • The quotation marks around the title are meant to make it even more obvious that it is an example of someone’s ignorance about children with cognitive disabilities (if that is an acceptable term now). To say that the title of this book is unacceptable is the same as saying that we can’t acknowledge that retarded is a harmful word, by refusing to acknowledge the word at all. So we’re in effect less advanced than we were in 1977.

  • Thanks Jon, for the breath of fresh air. The title is obviously ironic. Too bad this planet is “ret*rded,” I mean, irony-challenged.

  • Welcome to the idiocracy! You’re gonna pull a library book written over 30 years ago because of a word in the title.

    Better go pull all of your Agatha Christie while you’re at it. The original title of “Ten Little Indians” was “Ten Little Niggers.”

    Censorship by any other name is still censorship.

  • Who’s retarded? You should see the residual deal I negotiated for this one. Set for life, baby.

  • Authors have influence, but no control over the titles ultimately chosen for their books. It’s a negotiation with a publisher and the publisher’s interest is to stop bookstore browsers in their tracks with titles that shock, inflame or make curious.

    To you who believe that it is idiotic to point out that the title is provocative, I have a word to describe you: retard.

    *Of course* the word has power. And, of course, that power changes over time. There is no reason to defend a word nor — especially if you’re among the dominant group over whom the term is only wielded to hurt — try to control those who want the power to define themselves.

    In short, grow the hell up.

  • I don’t think the controversy is over the word “retarded” in the title, it’s the fact that it says “what a shame”.

    Someone with a disability should not be seen as shameful. That is promoting the wrong message.

  • Mainstreaming has come a long way. What it looks like, from what I’ve seen, is: Kids with severe LD’s or MD’s sit in classrooms, often with their own aide, and do work completely divorced from what their erstwhile classmates are doing while rarely interacting with them. The courts in my state have ruled that parents have the right to have their children in mainstream classes, and there are lots of parents who insist on this even when it is not helpful to their child.

  • “The courts in my state have ruled that parents have the right to have their children in mainstream classes, and there are lots of parents who insist on this even when it is not helpful to their child.” What is worse is that the school district must pay whatever it costs to provide an education for that child, including paying for a private school. Let me tell you about a little school district near San Jose, CA. 400 students in k-8 so very small. Of those, 4 are being sent to private school at an average $60k/yr/student and 16 others have either full-time or part-time aides. The parents of one of private school kids is now threatening to sue the district because they don’t like the private school their child is going to at no cost to them and want the school district to send the child to a more expensive one. In the meantime, we are “requested” to pay $600/yr for one child, $900/yr for 2 or more, to keep music and PE teachers for the rest of the children. Students who excel have no way to gain access to challenging work because there is no money to pay for it. This year a group of families with students who excel in math are each paying in another $1000 so that our children can have geometry. Politicians claims that they want excellent schools but then they shaft the students who are excellent.