Sunday, 06 September 2009 02:00

The Dear Departed: Ted Kennedy

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Becky Akers“In 1984, just as my brother Alan … prepared himself to graduate from high school, a social worker visited our family's home,” writes T.J. Boisseau, now an associate professor of history at the University of Akron in Ohio. “She was there to explain to my parents the sorts of programs for which Alan was eligible until he turned 22 because he was mentally retarded.” Predictably, then, she “expressed surprise, and dismay” at the news of Alan’s graduation because “if he received a diploma, Alan would not be eligible for any training programs or state-sponsored support later in life.”

Boisseau says that while her family “knew Alan was ‘slow’ and had to take all ‘special’ classes,” they never thought of him as retarded. So you might suppose that they would require evidence more compelling than a social worker’s biased opinion before disavowing Alan’s achievement. But no. Instead, his mother “immediately contacted the school principal to put a halt on the processing of Alan's diploma.”

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