The overwhelming success of America's public schools added to the current president's fervent wish that absolutely no child be left behind has inspired professional educators to add a new program for a previously forgotten but deserving group of students. Starting next year selected schools will be designated centers for the education of dead students. "The critical needs of these students can no longer be ignored," says Dr. E.S. Mort, Ed. D., who developed the program.

Teachers with limited vision have had low achievement expectations for these students, but this negative attitude, especially common among more experienced teachers, will soon be addressed by a new course that all teachers must complete to maintain their certification.

The course will include sensitivity sessions on alivism, that pernicious belief that the living are intellectually superior to the dead. Teachers will be sensitized to rid their vocabularies of such alivist words and phrases as deceased, died, dead as a doornail, expired, passed on, passed away, corpse, kicked the bucket, stiff, went to his final reward, no longer fogs mirrors, has reached room temperature, and went to be with Jesus.

These words and phrases will be replaced by expressions more acceptable to the dead. To date Dr. Mort has been unable to find out what these expressions are, but is optimistic that he soon will. Dr. Mort is undaunted by those who say he seeks to find out the impossible. "That attitude," he opines, "is typical of the kind of negative thinking that results from institutional alivism."

Officials expect that after these sessions teachers will be more sensitive to dead students and will stop saying such things as, "They don't do anything," or "They just lie there and stare vacantly," or "I've done all I can and they're still dead."

Classes of dead students will be self-contained at first, but as the program gains momentum dead students will be mainstreamed into regular classes. Dr. Mort says this mainstreaming will remove the stigma traditionally attached to being dead, and that regular students will eventually rid themselves of prejudices they have grown up with.

Many professionals in the new field claim, with justification, that dead students have much in common with regular students. Once we become accustomed to having them in classes, they say, we will begin to view them as just another valued group in our ever expanding, inclusive, and pluralistic society.

Recommended for you