Tonya Bah’s testimony transcript from the July 6, 2017 SRC meeting

Tonya Bah SRC 7-67-17

Click the picture to view the SRC meeting video and go to 9:47 to view Tonya’s testimony.

Good morning. To my left is my daughter, Fulani Bah, she’s one of the twins that are autistic and they are both in public schools here in Philadelphia.

I liken Philadelphia schools to a practice exam. The community is where students learn to associate and integrate with non-disabled peers as well as disabled peers. And that’s very important. Any chance of segregation and that‘s what we continue to have in our public schools is a chance to continue to disrupt any opportunity for inclusion. If not now, then when? When do we have inclusion in our public schools?

(reading sections from resolution with intermittent comments)

“Full time alternative special education program provider, Catapult Learning to provide programming to students previously served by Wordsworth” – I understood that; 106 students. But you go on to say,

“…and other students whose needs may be met by the program.” – That’s not inclusion. That’s not acceptable. Inclusion (pointing to her daughter standing on left) – Carver Engineering and Science. That’s inclusion. That’s one of the twins. There’ve been some bumps, but we’ve managed. And I need you to oppose resolution IU7 or 1, I need you to oppose it. –

“Access to written protocol… timely notice of our parents and advocates and opportunity to understand options regarding inclusion and placement options to consider… placement decisions and their basis of decisions that address least restrictive environments.” – So, if I took out an ad to say, “Wanted: a resolution requesting authorization to contract with parents, advocates and educators to provide inclusion program in all of our public schools for students with and without disabilities in grades K thru 12…”

Lipstick, no matter how much you put on a pig, still has a pig looking like a pig. Segregation is still segregation. And so, unless we take inclusion seriously and begin to do that in our public schools, we’re in a lot of trouble. I liken our Philadelphia public school community to a practice test. So that our students when they’re old enough to enter into our community, actually enter and understand that there are differences in all of us. And so that is why it’s important to include our special needs population at all times, in all of our schools. I don’t understand your allegiance to Catapult Learning. So, again I’m asking you to oppose resolution IU7, IU1.

And to our parents: Have a seat at the table. To our kids: Stop being part of the Menu.