By Susan Payne, writing in the Austin American-Statesman:
Closing institutions does not protect the people who cannot survive in group homes. Closing institutions is a slap in the face to employees who have dedicated their careers and lives to the schools. Closing institutions disrupts the lives of the residents, families and the circle of wonderful people who volunteer, mentor and care for the state school residents. Most of all, closing institutions ignores the feelings and opinions of the many parents and relatives of school residents.
Who are we and how do we know? We are the parents and families of the 4,007 severely and profoundly mentally retarded living in the state schools. We know them better than anyone else … It’s unfortunate and frustrating that some people have trouble accepting that our loved ones will never be able to live in the community as productive citizens. We accept them as they are. We love them and are proud of their accomplishments, no matter how small.