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An Ideology That Focuses on No. 1

April 27, 1985

Powell's column on Eileen Gardner, Ph.D., a former high-ranking appointee in the Department of Education, exposes her for who she really is--an individual who believes that handicapped children deserve less educational benefits because they "drain badly needed resources from the normal school population." Sadly, these beliefs are justified by "deeply held religious principles", i.e., "a person's external circumstances do fit his level of spiritual development."

I am glad that Education Secretary William Bennett asked for and received her resignation. I do not want my tax dollars paying her salary. Unfortunately, our taxes are paying the salaries of many who share her ideas, or else she never would have been hired in the first place.

Her comparison between "normal" and "handicapped" students is a watered-down version of beliefs held by the racial purists of Nazi Germany. This imagery of a somehow inferior people "draining" the resources of a somehow superior people was used consistently in Nazi propaganda.

Gardner holds a Ph.D. and held a position of considerable influence in an office that sets the tone for educational practices throughout the entire nation. I resent the fact that she differentiates between the "normal school populations" and one that is "draining." It is disheartening enough that there are so many unsympathetic educated people around who lack compassion for the handicapped, but the realization that our government hired a person that defends budget cuts on the basis that the handicapped are a drain is reprehensible. Would she have been able to get a Ph.D. if she was handicapped and there was someone like her at the helm?

CAROLYN D. AGNELLI

Santa Monica

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