Betty Steuer


As Interviewed by Milo Kevorkian, March 20, 2019

Betty Steuer: In Her Own Words

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I thought of sharing one. It was with a third-grader, and he was in my class, but he would go to the regular third grade, and he would have social studies. And back then, the public law said that students with disabilities had to be educated to the extent they can in a regular classroom.

So his regular classroom, for social studies, was going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And so we went on a bus to New York City, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now since we were going on a trip, I had to go with them, because my student needed somebody with him at all times. And he was with me because he had emotional problems.
So we’re in New York City, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has all these pieces of art, and these big, big rooms. We were looking at mostly the Egyptian section, and the boy got upset about something. And this boy used to have temper tantrums, or he would run. And here I am, in this big public place, this big, big museum, and he’s upset. And normally what I would do, there’s a method of holding children that is safe and protective. But I didn’t feel that was appropriate in this public place. So I went to the guard, and I said: “See that boy over there? He’s about to throw a fit. And I just know he’s going to do this. We need to get him to a safe place. If you tell him that he must follow you, then he will, because this is an air of authority.” And Michael did. He followed him and we went down to the security office, and I had to call his parent, and luckily we had this all planned ahead of time, in case something happened, and the parent had to come and pick him up at the museum.

So sometimes, you know, you have to be able to do what you can do in specific incidents, without hurting the child, but helping the child.

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It was a big issue in that segregation was an issue in our country. And black people were segregated, and they dealt with that, with the Civil Rights laws, and then they found that black children were segregated, and so they dealt with that in the Brown versus Board of Education supreme court ruling. And it found that the children weren’t getting good textbooks, black children were in schools that didn’t have much money, they had teachers that weren’t regular teachers, educated teachers, so their differences were too big. So once they dealt with that, which they’re still dealing with, then they started thinking, well, wait a minute. What about the children who have differences? All children with differences?. Whether they couldn’t hear, or they couldn’t see, or they were children who were always upset. That’s when they started dealing with that, and that’s when Public Law 94 - 142 came in. That said everybody has the right to a public education. And I think that over the years, parents started speaking out, saying, “wait a minute, shouldn’t my child be with regular kids?”