18. Screening, Evaluating, and Labeling Children (4/94)

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Whereas a growing number of government programs screen, evaluate, and label children at earlier and earlier ages; and

Whereas the power of these programs is growing and spreading because they often involve a number of different public and private agencies, organizations, and professionals now working together through new programs to promote collaboration among government agencies; and

Whereas the definition of “children with special needs” has been broadened so that many children who are following their own unique timetables but are well within the range of normal development are now being labeled as “developmentally delayed,” or “learning disabled,” or some such label; and

Whereas these labels are very destructive because they undermine the confidence of children and parents and become self-fulfilling prophecies; and

Whereas these programs are technically voluntary and require parental permission for children to participate and be evaluated, BUT increasingly parents who allow their children to be evaluated and placed in such programs are unable to get their children out of the programs unless they enroll in a private program or a private school (including homeschools); and

Whereas pressure is being put on parents and the general public to believe that institutions and so-called experts know how to evaluate, label, and train very young children; and

Whereas requiring children to participate in programs and/or schools at early ages is not generally good for children or their families; in fact, there is growing evidence that these programs are detrimental to children and their families; and

Whereas requiring young children to participate in such programs could lead to including younger children in the compulsory school attendance law; and

Whereas requiring participation in such programs could expand the authority of these programs, of the schools in general, and of “professional experts” and further reduce the role and respect given to parents and the family;

Be it resolved by the members of the Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) that WPA and its members will work to inform parents about their rights and responsibilities in education; to inform parents about the problems associated with screening, evaluating, and labeling of children, including very young children; and inform parents about how they can get their children out of such programs. 4/94

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