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interviews

Thomas K. Gilhool chapter 7


chapters

Chapter 1: Early Career and Association with PARC
Chapter 2: PARC Approaches Gilhool
Chapter 3: Right to Education Case
Chapter 4: Brother's institutionalization influenced Tom's thoughts on Right to Education Case
Chapter 5: Right to Education Heard in Federal Court
Chapter 6: Media and Reaching Diverse Audiences
Chapter 7: Fundamental Shift for the Educational System (you are here)
Chapter 8: Meaningful Provisions in Consent Decree
Chapter 9: Implementation of Consent Decree
Chapter 10: Impact of Right to Education Case on Tom's Career

transcript - entire interview

Thomas K. Gilhool Interview (Word)


transcript - current chapter

Chapter 7: Fundamental Shift for the Educational System

18:01:28:16 - 18:04:04:19 LS: It seems that what you were presenting with this case, for the courts, for the education system was really fundamental shift in thinking about how all children were educated.

TG: Sure.

LS: Do children respond to the standards of the school, or do schools respond to the needs of the child?

TG: That's, that's very perceptive and very early, all of the people in this case, um, the leadership of the ARC and all of the rest of us became aware that what would improve schooling indeed make it possible for children with disabilities would improve schooling or everybody. And, and very much later, a very important leader in the movement of people with physical disabilities, Sharon Mistler of Oklahoma and then of Washington DC, a central figure in Section 50 of the Rehabilitation Act and a central figure in the enactment of the American with Disabilities Act. She had been at the University of Illinois, at Champaign Urbana and she told the story about the masters' thesis written in the 1950's following the University of Illinois' installation of curb cuts on the campus at Champaign Urbana, and the writer of the master's thesis had interviewed all of the constituencies at the university asking why they thought there were now curb cuts at every corner. And the young faculty said "so we can ride our bicycles more easily", and the young faculty wives, marks it as the '50s, "so we can more easily push our baby carriages", and the groundskeeper, "so that we can more easily move our heavy equipment around campus", and the jocks," so that we can more easily do our miles of jogging", and so on. In other words, what improves the world for people with disabilities improves it for everyone. And indeed so many of the important insights of the states of the art in the education effective education of children with disability have done so much for the education of other children.

18:04:04:23 - 18:05:51:16 LS: The principle issue that you put to the court dealt with the equality of access to education rather than the quality of access to education?

TG: No, no, no no, no , and yeah that's, you don't really...It isn't enough to persuade the court that there's something unequal going on here, there's something that offends the equality provisions in the Constitution and the equality commitment of the United States. You really have to, as you have to do in real life outside the courts, you really have to persuade the court that you can do it, that it can be done. Because what we were after was really effective teaching and learning. We weren't only after having the children in the schools. There were times when we said, Gee, even if it were only an equal right to babysitting, when kids are their, their active thirteen and fourteen year old for some hours of the day to relieve parents, it would have been a case worth bringing. But what we were after was serious focus upon the capabilities of these children by the schools. And so we had to make the record that they could learn, and here's how, here are some ideas, not full but some good idea of what will be necessary for it to happen.

18:05:52:16 - 18:08:37:27 LS: How long did you expect this hearing to be and ultimately, how long did it end up being?

TG: (Laughs) Well it ended up being one day, the four witnesses were done in one day. Uh, um we expected, we had the ten witnesses all set to come, four of them the next day, and another couple the next day and so on, and it was a considerable surprise when the Deputy Attorney General said maybe, maybe w can do this. And so we adjourned for, let's see, from - the hearing was in August, we had the courts first set of orders were on October the 8th. So we adjourned until sometime in late September and during that time we worked through what the orders would say. On what terms we would settle this court- this case- and what the Court would order the Commonwealth and all of the school districts to do. Um, and then, as I mentioned, the members of all classes, plaintiffs and defendants were entitled under the rules of the class action rules of the Federal Courts to notice, and the opportunity to be heard. And that notice was given to all school districts directly, and by the Commonwealth and the school districts to many parents, this is short of the notice to parent after the final orders, and so there were a couple of days of hearings in, maybe three, in February, and then the final decision and orders of the Court came in early June of 1972. Um, um, several school districts put on witnesses and we had the opportunity to cross examine them. A couple of parents came in because they were not satisfied with one or another provision in the preliminary orders. And, indeed, they had significant things to contribute which improved the orders in their final version.

18:08:44:00 - 18:08:58:19 Crew chatter


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