Demands of TEAM critics reasonable, justified

Opinion

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For two weeks in a row, WEDNESDAY JOURNAL has published letters questioning the psychological well-being and motivation of TEAM parents seeking reform ("Critics of OPRF's TEAM program have gone too far," May 4 and "This parent is happy with OPRF's TEAM work," May 11). Surely WEDNESDAY JOURNAL will find space for a TEAM parent to respond to these scandalous personal attacks.

Portraying advocates for change as perennial malcontents is a tactic as old as history and puts us in the company of the world's great social reformers. As such, these kinds of arguments are commonly used when valid reasoning runs out and they can generally be ignored.

But when the attack involves implications that we don't truly love our children or that we are "poisoning the minds of TEAM parents," then a public response is warranted.

We don't question the motivations of letter writers Vicars or White, or their psychological makeup. If they are satisfied with the TEAM program that the TEAM

Administrator's own hand-picked consultant cited as 20 years out-of-date, then we wish them well.

If the written and oral testimony of two OPRF Honor students, two former employees, and eight parents that verbal abuse is commonplace in TEAM doesn't worry Vicars and White, so be it. But it worries many, many other parents, and

I have no doubt that it also worries Dr. Bridge, whether or not she feels that there is yet basis enough to take personnel action.

For the record, we love our children. We adore them. Like every other parent, we want them to reach their greatest potential. We also know clearly that the current OPRF Special Education program does not let them reach their potential.

For the record, all we ask is that allowance be made in TEAM for a program based on the modern methods of Verbal Behavior ABA for the many parents who wish this for their children. We ask for a serious commitment to this effort, including training of teachers and aides. We ask also that staff be trained in avoiding abusive behavior when dealing with disabled children. We ask that OPRF Special Ed and TEAM have Administrators who are truly committed to this program and who are serious about partnering with parents.

Are these the outrageous demands of perennial malcontents or psychologically maladjusted parents? I think not. Is any of this particularly expensive? I think not.

Finally, we need to address Vicars' and White's contention that we are unhappy people. For the record we are ordinary people, mostly happy, friendly, kind and caring. But we know that there is terrible injustice in our school, and we will continue to speak out about it. Win or lose, we owe that legacy to our children.

My experience in life is that happiness does not come from accepting the status quo when the status quo is unjust and can be changed. Indeed I have found the greatest of happiness lies in working with friends and neighbors to fight injustice, in my neighborhood and around the globe.

White says we should "stop raising havoc." But raising havoc against tyrants, big or small, in the White House or in OPRF Special Ed, is wonderfully satisfying! White and Vicars should try it some time. Life is too brief to miss the experience.

Scott Berman
Oak Park TEAM Parent

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