Textbook Describing Down Syndrome As ‘Error’ Triggers Debate
A Massachusetts couple is asking their son’s school district to remove a science textbook that refers to Down syndrome as an “error,” concerned the characterization could lead to bullying.
Books used by seventh graders in Bridgewater, Mass. schools describe Down syndrome by saying “the extra chromosome is the result of an error during meiosis.” The section on the chromosomal disorder also uses the term “mental retardation.”
That description didn’t sit well with Tom and Pauline Lewis. Their son Ian, 14, has Down syndrome and they say the language in the textbook is outdated and could leave Ian’s classmates with a negative view of him and others with the disorder.
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The Lewises asked school officials to remove the book from use throughout the district, citing a recent case of bullying against another student with Down syndrome among their concerns. They also pointed to efforts in states across the country — including Massachusetts — and the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with language such as “intellectual disability.”
Administrators, however, said it was not financially viable to replace the 2002 editions of Prentice Hall’s “Science Explorer: Cells and Heredity.” Instead they agreed to instruct teachers not to include the section on Down syndrome in their lessons. Further, a committee recommended that the district encourage teachers to conduct classes promoting awareness of disabilities and the meaning of various labels.
Unsatisfied, the Lewises are appealing the decision, reports The (Brockton, Mass.) Enterprise. To read more click here.