Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Editorial was appalling

The profound disappointment in the Mountain Express "Our View" called "Autistic Teachers?" (May 11, 2011) is evident by many valley residents. Editorial viewpoints should lead our community in becoming better-informed, thoughtful individuals who understand and value each other. We may disagree, but we still show respect.

Last week's viewpoint is not an editorial that our community was proud to claim. The comment that our teachers have a "mild form of autism" is an insensitive attack on two fronts: to spite teachers and a heartless prejudice against people who have autism.

We have seen the Pinnacle Award of Excellence printed proudly in the recent Idaho Mountain Express. We believe that a newspaper that is being so honored should hold itself to the level of integrity worthy of the award. Your editorial was appalling. It blatantly demonstrated prejudice and bias toward a group of people who have a unique disability, and indicated that individuals with autism need to be fixed. In addition, the writer's Wikipedia-like definition does not demonstrate a full grasp of autism—another disappointing example of the author's limited and uneducated understanding.

We believe a sincere apology is needed and we invite the Mountain Express to visit our Autism Spectrum Disorder program. The world is full of professionals in every field who fall within the spectrum of autism and deserve respect and understanding.

All members of our community have a responsibility to value the contributions of those they interact with and to honor differences irrespective of race, class, gender or disability. "Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones." (Charlotte Bronte, 1816-1855)

Debi Gutknecht

Director of student services, Blaine County School District

Brad Henson

Principal, Woodside Elementary School

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