THE DAWG’S GUIDE TO EDU-PAIN-O-METERS, HEDGE FUND MANAGERS, AND SOME OF THE INS AND OUTS OF THE FINE AND OFTEN UNEXAMINED PARTS OF OUR SPECIAL EDUCATION LAWS
Q. Dawg, can you explain “extreme physical pain” and why it matters?
A. Certainly. Pain that is both “physical” and “extreme” hurts. It hurts like hell. So it matters. You should do something about it.
Q. Dawg, that’s not very helpful. I’m not in pain. I am asking about our special ed laws. Why do they use this term: “extreme physical pain”?
A. Oh! Our laws use that term because Congress is too gen- teel to say “pain that hurts like hell.” Neither Democrats nor Republicans would support such language. Tea Party people maybe, but no one else.
Q. Yes, but why is such a phrase necessary at all? I thought our special ed laws were about serving kids with disabilities. Why are they talking about “extreme physical pain”?
A. Oh, I see what you’re getting at. The term “extreme physical pain” is in the part of the law that authorizes your principal to toss a kid into an “interim alternative educational setting” (IAES) for up to nine weeks—45 school days–if the student inflicts “extreme physical pain” on someone at school.
Q. I stubbed my toe last week. It hurt like hell. Extreme physi- cal pain?
Q. I broke a finger last month. Extreme physical pain?
Q. I accidentally dropped my new iPhone into the toilet.
A. That produces extreme pain, but not extreme “physical” pain.
Q. I once broke my nose in a bicycle accident. Hurt like hell. Extreme physical pain?
A. No. We found two hearing officer decisions—one from Pennsylvania and one from California that said that a broken nose is not bad enough.
Q. Well what does it take then?
A. We’re not sure. We found one case in which a teacher was head butted and kicked in the chest by a six-year-old. She said it was the worst pain of her life and rated it a 10 on the 10-point scale. The hearing officer said that was “extreme physical pain.”
Q. Well if this is the worst the teacher has experienced, we expect that she has not yet gone through childbirth. She will have to go with a 20-point scale on that.
Q. It sounds very subjective, this “extreme physical pain” thing.
A. Yes. This is why the Dawg is at work on the Edu-Pain-O- Meter. This will give us an objective reading of the physical pain the educator is suffering. Once our Edu-Pain-O-Meter is scientifically validated, the results will be admissible as evidence in a special education due process hearing.
Q. That sounds great! When will the Edu-Pain-O-Meter be available?
A. Soon, we hope, but we are running into some difficulties. For one thing, we are having some difficulty recruiting educa- tors for the clinical trials. It’s a hard sell, trying to convince people to endure pain until it reaches “extreme” levels. It is true that our clinical trials involve stubbed toes, smashed fin- gers, bruised shins and paper cuts. But it is all in pursuit of scientific accuracy. We are disappointed that we cannot find more educators dedicated to the scientific process.
Q. And you have other problems?
A. Yes. We are finding it difficult to isolate “physical” pain from “emotional,” “mental,” or “psychological” pain. The law only applies to “physical” pain, so if an educator is suffering great pain that is not physical, that doesn’t count. We had one guy who seemed a perfect candidate for our clinical trials. He endured pain at the mild, moderate and severe levels, and was able to articulate for us exactly when it reached the level of “extreme.” But after we finished we did the exit interview and found out that right before he came in, he was listening to the news. This produced extreme mental anguish, which no doubt clouded the results of the physical pain testing.
Q. What was so distressing on the news?
A. He found out that 25 hedge fund managers made $24,300,000,000 last year. That would be enough to fully fund about 426,315 full-time teachers at the average national salary.
Q. And is Texas above or below that average national salary?
Q. Soldier on, Dawg.
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