Monday, April 29, 2013

Reflections on Citizenship in School Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

In Citizenship in School Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome a quote on the first page by Jason Kingsley stuck out to me, “people without disabilities are judging us” unfortunately the reason it stuck out was because I was one of those people.  My school was one where the special educations students were not in any regular classrooms with us. They were down a hall that hardly anyone went down. Because I had no interaction with these students and did not know any of them I judged them. I thought they were not smart that they could not handle interactions with “normal” people. I thought they were limited in all areas. Those that did not show an outward different appearance were just really lazy kids who wanted to color all day. The special education students were never part of any regular school activates. They were never at our during school pep rallies, they did not eat in our lunchroom or attend other events. Although I was never in their classroom so I have no idea what they were learning their work that was displayed in their hallway reminded me of an elementary school: colored papers and childish assignments. 

It is hard for me to admit (and even harder to out this on a blog) that I used to judges those with disabilities but I feel it is very important to this piece. Separating students with disabilities is bad everyone. Delpit would say these students are not learning the rules and codes of power. Placing them in separate classes not allow them to reach their full potential.  Shor would point out that students with disabilities are not leaning to socialize with their peers and maybe even more importantly their peers are not learning to socialize with them.  Herbert would use this to point out that separate is definitely not equal between special education classroom and mainstream ones. Separating these students also creates myths as to what they can and cannot do.

 When my best friend had a son with autism I began to learn and see how very wrong my judgments of these students was. I have learned so much from watching her son. Unlike my past I don’t see an autistic child. I just see him as adorable tell- it- like- it- is Drew J

The stories in this article are a great reminder for me. They show how much these students can and need to be apart of mainstream classrooms.  The story of April and how she was able to help another student who had just lost her hearing was my favorite. This was such a win for everyone. April was able take on a position she may not have had the chance to in a special educations class and Cathy had someone who was able to help here and to understand the position she was in.

Thankfully stores like this are now happing across the country. Programs like Best Buddies are bring students together helping to socialize and make sure those with disabilities get the same experience as their classmates. It is also helping non-disabled students to see beyond the disability and see the whole person as their true self. 

                                                              Best Buddies Indiana

Sunday, April 28, 2013


In her piece Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route Jeannie Oaks argues that tracking or place students in groups based on ability is harmful to students. Oaks tells us that students in the high ability groups have richer school experiences than those in lower ability classes. Higher ability groups are exposed to richer reading material, receive better instruction, and spend more time on learning and socialization.  In lower ability classrooms the teacher main focus is to get the students to sit quietly and follow directions L. This makes me think back to Dr. Bogad’s question, “Is separate equal?” I believe Oaks would say Separate is not equal. This also makes me think of the Shor piece we read “Education in Politics” The students in the lower ability classrooms are missing out on important educational lessons: The ability to think and challenge themselves.

I have to wonder what Delpit would think about tracking. Students in the lower ability classrooms are learning rules (or at least how to follow them) and codes (In a school setting you need to behave).  These students are being trained for the “real world” but sadly they are being trained to simply follow directions, not to think or share ideas or socialize.  Lower ability students are not being trained for positions of leadership or power. Would Delpit consider the fact that they are at least being trained in the rules and codes a success? I wish she had defined this in her reading.

As a student who was in the lower track classes I can say that we were well prepared for jobs that did not require us to think only to follow directions. This worked well for menial jobs in fast food and as cashers in retail. For some of my fellow students they were able to get jobs in places like the Steel Mills making good money and enjoying their job however, for many of us this lead to dead end jobs we hated and most of my fellow lower tracked students who tried collage did not do well because for the first time they were asked to push themselves, think and do things on their own. Not that they were lazy but for many this was a struggle because they were used to just being told what to do.

I 100% agree that separate is not equal and while students in lower track classes are learning the skill to follow directions I feel as though buy being taught as they are the decision has already been made by the teachers what kind of jobs students are going to have. Teachers jobs should be to inspire their students and help them reach their potential not limit it.    

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shor Last Blog Post :-(

Shor Quotes
 I really enjoyed this article and I had a hard time choosing just three quotes!

The first one that stood out to me was Bettelheim. “You must arouse children’s curiosity and make them think about school. For example its very important to began the school year with a discussion of why we go to school. Why does the government force us to go to school? This would set a question tome and show the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent enough at their own level to investigate and come up with answers.”  This quote really sets up the whole article and Shor’s belief that children in schools need to be socialized.  I love this quote because it also points out an very important question why does the government force us to go to school? Our government requires it for the good of the country. They want us to participate in democracy and our society. Yet in our classes we are only taught to sit and take notes and often repeat what we learn without any thoughts or opinions. 

The second one was Giroux “Schools need to be defended as an important public service that educated students to be critical citizens who can think, challenge, take risks and believe that their actions will make a difference in a larger society. “ I love this quote. THIS is why I want to teach. I want my students to have these skills.  This goes back to why the government forces us to go to school (or at least the original intent).  This is why students need to be socialized in school. Students who know their voices are valued in school will know they can be a value in society.

The third one is from Apple who says “To many people, the very idea of regaining any really control over social institutions and personal developments is abstract and nonsensical. In general many people do see society’s economics, social and education institutions as basically self-directing with little need for their participation and with little necessity for them to communicate and argue over the ends and means of the these same institutions.’    This goes back to why the government forced people to go to school in the first place to participate and help better the sociality and yet because of they way we are teaching people often feel like Apple states. Again this goes back to the need of teaching students to be social. It also reminds me of Oakes Tracking Why Schools Need to Take Another Route students from working class and lower class families are not taught to think but to answer questions. These are the people most effected by what goes on politically in our country yet they are not taught to think, question or socialize so they leave those thinks to the policy makers and leaders the people often least effected by policies and laws.

This was a great last article for the class and I think it may have just trumped Delpit as my favorite reading for the semester. As I grow more aware that I can be a part of positive change in the world I become angrier that I was not taught to think and be social in school. I want to make sure my students learn these important skills that I had to learn on my own and later in life and college.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Separate and Unequal Reflections

Out of the four tasks we had to accomplish for this week’s assignment the one that spoke to me most was the article “Separate and Unequal” by Bob Herbert.  His statement that “Schools are no longer legally segregated but because of residential pattern, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long held customs, they most emphatically are in reality” made me think back to where I grew up, Northwest Indiana. One of the cities near where I lived is Gary, Indiana.  According to school data in 2010 there were 11798 students enrolled in the school system.  Only 74 students were white. Gary is a financially struggling area. Many of the families living in Gary cannot leave do to economic disparities.

According to Richard Kahlenberg “Ninety-five percent of education reform is about trying to make separate schools for rich and poor work, but there is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school”. This reminds me of an argument I got into with someone a while back. He stated the teachers in a near by city of Crown Point were better then those in the Gary schools. He based this on test scores. I pointed out that the Gary teachers had to deal with more then just teaching. I told him if you took one child out of the Gary schools and put them into the Crown Point school most likely they would perform better, but if you moved all the Gary students to Crown Point and vise versa. The Gary students would still perform poorly while the other students would still do well.  Many of the Gary students were hungry or helping to care for siblings or other issues.  The teachers at Crown Point had students whose parents were well educated and most of the mothers stayed home. Teachers could spend time teaching and the students could concentrate on learning because they did not have outside issues like those in Gary.

The Gary students also had crumbling buildings, few supplies and sometimes even no books. They had few if any extra curricular activities. Students from the other school enjoyed a media room with a coffee bar; brand new buildings and many of their textbooks had additional information on line.  Band students could record their practices online to be graded. They had many extra curricular activities and sports.

Like Kahlenberg stated in the article Gary has tried “firing teachers, attacking unions and creating charter schools “. None of these have fixed Gary’s school system.
Comparing the two schools makes me think back to Brown vs. Board of Education and how separate was not equal. Although there is no law mandating separation any longer, like the article states, it is still happening for other reasons.  We need to find new ways to help these students in high poverty areas and work to make sure all schools are equal.

My question to my fellow classmates and Dr. Bogad is how do we do it? How do we make sure each child gets a great education?