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Ambiguous government writing sparked a debate over disabled students' "right" to sports.
Photo by Canadian Paralympic Committee
Two weeks ago I kicked up some dust when I wrote that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had apparently created a right to wheelchair basketball via its new guidance about athletics and students with disabilities. Nor was I the only one to read it that way—the disability rights community saw it as a “landmark moment” too, akin to the passage of Title IX.
Not so fast, says the Department in a new Education Week article:
Mr. Galanter added: "Reading one piece in isolation is not how we intended the document to be read."
Maybe it isn’t so crazy, after all, that the Common Core asks students to learn how to read government documents. It’s clearly an intellectually challenging task! (One aspect: Deciphering the meaning of “should.”)
Mr. Galanter, rather than imploring your intended audience not to “read one piece” of guidance “in isolation,” may I suggest that you rewrite the guidance so as to remove any ambiguity? Believe me, I made my share of mistakeswhen I was at the Department of Education. It’s OK to admit it, fix it, and move on.