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. -r v v Sunday, march 29, 1998 The Palm Beach Post f SECTION E if: AN EDITORIAL Randy Schultz OP ON a hi ' ,SAMeageV """""""""""jr' Callery ..g'Mecca SWalsey judge Farms J property Groves forthlaL Md X Palm Beach County's S ' SEAN TEVIS V Wellington , Jsa. X staff Artist next growth battle: All students need chance to be 'special' If von read last Monday's article in The THE Post about Micah Bea-Taylor, you had to admire the young man and his family. ; Micah is 13. He has cerebral paisy, wnicn orpatlv restricts his movement and forces fL.T'11 The area near Loxahatchee and the Acreage will be the site of the next fight to keep suburban sprawl from stretching all the way to the Everglades. ' S ft a a sr. t p t O- him to use a wheelchair. Despite that, he will audition next month for the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, one of the most demanding secondary education programs in the county. During the audition, Micah's brother will interpret, since Micah has trouble speaking. The school will provide other aids to make Micah as competitive with the other contenders as possible. His teachers are pulling for him. School board member Sandra Richmond, whose son has Down syndrome, speaks of the need to look beyond the traditional measures of artistic talent. Beyond the support Micah receives from family and friends, and beyond the school's wish to give him the best chance to succeed, federal law requires that school districts make special accommodations for him and other students who have disabilities or hmore tn iparnina Thev studv in small ' ii'i imuiui.i .itn i .iron. , . I . i f -I i , ., r. t . ; it ' ;A ' :: " : i "..'f.. .... ) f" r 7 ' . , y - V X h ' V ' I. I 'iru - - h 4 ft classes and receive more intense teaching, j Foreign children take English for Speakers of Other Languages classes, i If a school district fails to provide this I instruction, parents may file lawsuits. Even if I a school provides what seems to be an ; equitable education, parents may file lawsuits. Once the government identifies a i child as "special," the rules change. - Average kids can't turn to a lawyer Again, you can't blame any parent who fights for his or her child. But whenever I look at statistics that show how much school districts do for what the government calls "exceptional" or "special-needs" children, I think of how little, comparatively, Florida does for the "average" children. If students carry the label of "gifted, they get special, smaller and more Idemanding classes. State law. If students 'carry a B average when they graduate from high school, they get a Bright Futures Scholarship to a state university. State law. If students have learning difficulties or mental disabilities, they get smaller, more 'structured classes. Federal law. j If students have no label, however and 'most don't they get oversized classes and !no special instruction. When the Legislature Imakes budget cuts during recessions, as happened in the early '90s, those kids get hit 'hardest. Their parents can't file lawsuits lagainst the state accusing Florida of failing to Iprovide an adequate education. Someone actually tried once. The courts said it was unconstitutional. Should have said the kid Iwas from Belize. S Former Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Monica Uhlhorn once said: J'The top 15 percent of students in a district swill do fine anywhere. The bottom !l0 percent will be hard to save anywhere, jit's the middle 75 percent by which you judge how you're doing." Not abandoned, just overlooked ! Think, however, how often we overlook these students. They don't have lawyers. They don't have acronyms like ASPIRE Average Students Pleading In (Vain For) Rigorous Education. They are the seventh- RICHARD GRAUUCH1997 Staff File Photo Dana Noto helps a sheriff's deputy round up a cow that was loose in The Acreage. If things go badly this place of dirt roads and orange groves will be paved over, costing hundreds of millions in public services and threatening drinking water supplies. Key decisions hen Loxahatchee Groves was created in 1 Ql 7. the onlv access was bv boat on thP West Palm Beach Canal. It is the oldest community between State Road 7 anH 90-Milft Rend where State THE C3t& Palm Beach County Commission election. The potential impact Whoever holds the seat for District 6, which includes The Acreage, Loxahatchee Groves and the surrounding areas, will have a lot to say about how the region develops. Incumbent Ken Foster, who is retiring, supported the widening of State Road 7 to Okeechobee Boulevard. That intensified development in areas to the south. The timetable: The primary election is Sept. 1. The general election is Nov. 3. THE tSUXi Update of Palm Beach County's land-use plan. The potential impact The county commission, which must approve any changes to the plan, could allow development in what is now farmland near The Acerage. The timetable: The county commission must approve any changes in March 1999. TKC tSUC Pie state is studying whether to extend State Road 7 from Okeechobee Boulevard to the Beeline Highway. The potential impact Extending the road would open up west-central Palm Beach County to greater development. The timetable: The study is scheduled for completion in 2000. A 40-month study is needed because extension would pose so many environmental problems Road 80 begins to cross the Everglades to Belle Glade and, it was the only community until Royal Palm Beach was laid out in 1959. It remains a mixture of farmland and wooded lots of 5 acres or more, along narrow dirt roads. The area around Loxahatchee Groves, however, has changed dramatically. Indeed, west-central Palm Beach County is the next battleground in the fight to keep suburban sprawl from stretching all the way to the Everglades. To the north and west of Loxahatchee Groves is The Acreage, also largely rural but with a number of differences. The Acreage is newer, dating from the early 1960s. It is larger, 17,000 acres compared with 8 000 in Loxahatchee Groves. While Loxahatchee Groves has fewer than 5,000 people, The Acreage has 35,000 residents and is growing rapidly. There are no farms, the lots are only VA acres, and the Kiaut ljiuu.- t j - . i . r "w w I (scnooi mai was uuiu iui nuumu iu ii i cni ,.,Virt el in an Fnolich nr math nas i,jva, wiiu a" "-" iIqcc with 3fi students and who have a Please see WILD WEST6 Mohammed speaks louder in U.S. as Muslim, Jewish numbers shift ' . f jteacher who is three years from retirement, jbolts for the parking lot before the last bell 'finishes ringing, never assigns homework jand returns tests so late that the kids have .forgotten the material, j With the kind of special instruction that jlabeled children receive, who knows how many of these students might get the desire ito finish high school and not drop out? Who 'knows how many unplanned pregnancies Icould be avoided? Who knows how many kids would boost their grades enough to get ;into college? Who knows how many poor or minority children might find the place for inspiration that they don't find at home? t Funny, isn't it? Students have to get a 'label to get what the law supposedly grants them. They're not alone, of course. Average folks have a harder and harder time making 'it Every tax "reform" plan falls more heavily ;on people the less money they make. The 'law requires that condemned killers get lawyers, but not that families making ,$30,000 a year and lacking health insurance get a trip to the doctor. . i This is not to argue against the rights ot i - i i j i "i j mtan niirrlfrpr- Hut Genetic engineering breeds rights issue By Clarence Page If you could preprogram your future children to be talL strong, smart, good-looking and resistant to diseases, including cancer or AIDS, would you do it? Who wouldn't? You might even be viewed as negligent, even abusive, if you didn't But would there be social consequences if the practice was limited to only those who could afford it? How about a world genetocracy, a society in which a genetically enriched, super-healthy, super-intelligent minority dominates a serflike majority of people with normal, untampered genes? Molecular biologist Lee Silver of Princeton described that possibility in last year's Remaking Eden: Ooning and Beyond in a Brave New World (Avon Ph ase see CENETICS5E Clarence Page is a columnist for the Chicago By Mary Dejevsky In little more than a decade, the number of Muslims in the United States is set to surpass the number of Jews, in a shift that has far-reaching implications for domestic and, especially, foreign policy. By 2010, it is estimated that the U.S. Muslim population, which has risen from an estimated 0.4 percent of the population to almost 1.4 percent today, will pass the declining number of Jews. The 1997 Britannica Book of the Year gives only proportions but says that Jews, who accounted for 3.3 percent of the population in the mid-'70s, will account for only 2 percent in 2(KK). By 2010, it projects, the proportion of Muslims and Jews will have switched. Figures obtained from Jewish and Muslim aisaDiea cnuuicu ui ccu . with lawyers defending the low and lobbyists PLase see MUSUMV5 protecting tne nign, inose in uic ww -fewer and fewer advocates. Losing concern for all those "average" Americans would make us a pretty average country. Randy Sch ullz is editor of the editorial page of The Palm Beach Post Comments about the Opinion section may be sent to him at schulU2 pbposLcpm. (WCHAPO &BuLiCH S:a Potog-y Muslims mark the end of Ramadan at 1 West Palm Beach's Dreher Park. ' Mary Dcjersky is a reporter for The (Londm) Independent. ) '