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DON'T TREAT SPECIAL-ED STUDENTS DIFFERENTLY

The concept of equity and justice for all has always resounded in American history, but is there still a separate, yet unequal, class?

Right now, there is an art display in the downtown Central Library featuring, "Our Best in 2003: Buffalo Youth in Art." It is sponsored by the Buffalo School District and includes many different forms of artwork from students. As I was admiring the artwork, I walked around the displays and had the opportunity to read the artist's name, school, grade, title of the piece of art, medium and teacher's name.

But there was one piece of artwork that had no name to recognize its talent. Instead, it read, "Group Project" from Emerson High School. Underneath was written, "GRADE 9 SP. ED." in capital letters! The title of the artwork was, "Buffalo Rising." It depicted a beautiful picture of Buffalo with tall buildings, some even given a three-dimensional effect, with beautiful colors.

Who were these talented artists and why weren't their names listed like all the others? Who were the ones who were left out and singled out again? Why was the label "SP. ED." tagged on that one piece of art?

I understand there are student confidentiality laws for all students, especially for our students in special education classes, but with parental permission, I'm sure most parents would be proud to have their children's work displayed. If it was against parental permission to list the students' names, still, there is no reason why someone had to publicly place an identifiable label to a group of students that might cause them to feel different, humiliated and less of an equal in society.

All students deserve the same respect, dignity and recognition for a job well done. People are not labels. As a special education teacher at Grover Cleveland High School, I'd like to see the label removed from the signature tab for the benefit of the students, and their names, with parental permission, proudly included.

ROBIN A. CARLISI

Buffalo

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