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Thomas K. Gilhool chapter 6


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 (you are here)
Chapter 7: Fundamental Shift for the Educational System
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 6: Media and Reaching Diverse Audiences

17:50:47:22 - LS: When you were preparing your case you had essentially many different audiences you would be presenting this information to. Certainly the judges, but there was a lot of public attention, there would be a lot of media attention around the PARC case. Did knowing that you had to send a message to many and diverse audiences at all effect the way you prepared evidence in this case?

17:52:00:18 - 18:01:28:03 TG: Yes, having in mind the many audiences that the Pennsylvania Association hoped to reach through this case very much framed the way in which we prepared the evidence. It, it, it, the history's was very important. It's become usual now to assume that history has a place in Constitutional litigation - it was less usual then. But the resonance of the history to uncovering, exposing, and overcoming stereotypes is obvious. And since overcoming stereotypes was what we wanted to be sure happened in the courtroom to the extent that it was present there, and courtrooms are designed to overcome stereotypes, that's an institution that does it, the rest of our public forums don't do it so well. But we wanted to overcome it as well amongst the wider public - publics- of the case. People at large, citizens, school districts the people who worked in school districts, teachers, families of people with retardation. We wanted them to be as deeply informed as was necessary for them to feel and be free to act. We wanted the legislators to be informed; we wanted them to understand that it wasn't that their historic counterparts were bad people, though some of them may have been, but that they were very, very, very ignorant, and once one had an appreciation of fact and history, legislators can act differently. So yes, that we very important, and we chose our witnesses, the line of examination with all of those things in mind. Gunnar, as it turned out, Gunnar was going to be our closing witness. We submitted a witness list of eight, maybe ten witnesses. We got to four when the Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who was trying the case for all of the defendants stood up and said, "Your Honor, we would like to take a recess if we may, so that the Commonwealth can consider whether it can compose this case with the Plaintiffs. Um, uh, so we only got to four witnesses. The first witness was Ignacy Goldberg, who was a professor of education at the Columbia Teacher's College. He had been a travelling salesman for the American Legion in the early 1950's, going from state legislator to state legislator, seeking to persuade them to, to bring them to creating what came to be called 'trainable' classes for the mentally retarded, the 'trainable' mentally retarded, a category that correlates with moderate retardation, more or less. Why was the American Legion into that? Well, the military families had the usual distribution of disabled children and the military needed to be attentive to all military families, and so they took it as their job, the American Legion did, to persuade the state legislators to begin to admit children with disabilities. Interestingly enough, some of the most well developed, state-of-the-art uh, practices in educating people with mental retardation and disabilities more generally were in the Department of Defense schools. They ran the schools in Germany and Japan and other places in the '40s and '50's and '60s, as unfortunately still now we have so many families living. Now let me (laughs), how did I get into all that? What were we doing? We were doing the witnesses, Ignacy Goldberg, uh, he, he treated of the history that we have talked about. Uh the next two witnesses were (laughs), were people that Gunnar used to call the young men. Uh, the first was Jim Gallagher, and the second was Donald Stedman - they were the second and third witnesses. Jim had been an Assistant Commissioner of the United States for Education at the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, in the 1960's. He was the Assistant Commissioner in charge of education for children with disabilities. And he, as Ignacy had, went - Ignancy went deeply to the history, and Jim went to its continued virulence. Jim went, as Ignacy had also, to the states of the art and the undertakings that made clear the fact that, uh, all children with retardation could learn significant things, and learn them in ways that, that were related to the way that ordinary children learned and ordinary teachers taught ordinary children and so on. That there was knowledge that children with retardation had great capabilities and that there was knowledge of how teachers could loose these capabilities. (Laughs) Just saying that reminds me of the prevailing theory of the mind in those days. Plato's view which was common in American philosophy as taught in colleges, universities and once upon a time in high schools, they actually taught philosophy was that all people are born with all knowledge, and the job of education, the job of the teacher is to frame the question that brings it from the back of the mind to the front of the mind. Isn't that a lovely simile, a lovely way to think of education? Well, Jim and Don and the last witness uh, uh, Jima and Don were at the University of North Carolina, Don later became Provost of Duke University, um and they were masters of the states of the art, that was their emphasis in making the record, how it could and would be done. And the last witness uh, a wonderful man who wrote Christmas in Purgatory um, he was at Syracuse University and was Dean of its education College and he addressed the states of the arts as well, but he also addressed a kind of underlying point, namely, the changeability of intelligence. How any given person's intelligence is not set for life, it was an insight that had been around for a long time among serious educators. Those were the four witnesses who made it, and there were a wonderful set of additional witnesses who did not make it quite.

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