Implications of Bannon’s Deconstruction Philosophy on the Disability Community

Max LaZebnik Anxiety

I’ve got a cure for mental health… spank your children more,” Stephen Bannon

Yesterday as I watched the Conservative Political Action Conference a key presidential advisor Stephen Bannon put forward his world view which included something he called the “Deconstruction of the Administrative State.” He further explained this was about getting rid of governmental regulations in order to bring corporations back to the United States to employ American workers.

The prior day the POTUS repealed Obama legislation allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. Suicide rates of transgender students rise when bathroom choice is limited. (The repeal of this legislation has nothing to do with creating jobs. Instead it targets minority populations and Title IX – Sex Discrimination Laws).

Stephen Bannon’s vision is not only about rolling back regulations to bring back American jobs but also about what Bannon calls the return of “our culture.”

What culture is Bannon talking about?

On research the alt-right view is the return to abled “white” American culture. This culture is an exclusive culture which has no regard for the civil rights of minority groups.

What does the deconstruction of regulations and the return of “our culture” mean for people with disabilities?

The first week of the new administration Republican Representatives introduced H.R. 610 which is an attempt to deconstruct the 1965 Johnson law The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which has had several reauthorizations and is now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). House Bill 610 (introduced in the Education & Workforce Committee, by 3 Republican House Republicans) will start school voucher programs and the process of defunding public schools.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a big comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL programs, programs for students of color including Native Americans; as well as Rural Education, Education for Students who are Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability for these and other Programs.

Some things ESSA does for Children with Disabilities:

-Ensures access to the general education curriculum
-Ensures access to needed accommodations ( e.g. larger print, additional time) on assessments-Ensures alternate achievement standards
-Ensures use of principles of “Universal Design for Learning” in materials and instruction so that all have curriculum access and ability to learn
-Includes provisions that require school districts to use research – based instruction and curriculum in schools, especially with students who represent groups that have been consistently “underperforming” or underachieving.
-Requires that states write Title I (ESSA granted federal funds to assist students and schools in poverty) plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including: reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, reducing overuse of punitive discipline practices and reducing the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).

Many autistic people are home-schooled. The rollback of ESSA will effect funding for home-schoolers. Read more about ESSA and Disabilities here.

If this legislation passes, the next step likely will be the deconstruction of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), landmark legislation which ensures students with disabilities a Free and Public Education (FAPE). New Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in her confirmation hearings was ignorant of IDEA and FAPE.

One of the Art of Autism’s goals is increasing employment and workability skills of autistic people. Last year John Michael Carley wrote a comprehensive blog about rethinking autism employment initiatives. Critical to developing employment skills is a free and appropriate education. Deconstruction of our educational, medical, and social services systems without having viable, thoughtful replacements will create a lack of support and opportunity for people with developmental disabilities.

Because of the dynamic and chaotic political climate The Art of Autism added a tab titled Disability Rights on our main menu. On that page we include how to contact your representatives and legislation we are concerned about. The Art of Autism encourages civic participation. Disability Rights are non-partisan.

Disability Rights are Human Rights.

Cover Art: Max LaZebnick “Anxiety”- 14″x11″ Mixed Media Paper- Pencil, Colored Pencils, Sharpies, Inks A self portrait of Max with a visual representation of his anxieties regarding Trump’s presidency.


Debra Muzikar is co-founder of the Art of Autism nonprofit. Read the Art of Autism’s mission statement.

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