After reading Chapter 4, "Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" from "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer, I got a major impression of his argument. Kliewer argues that children with Down Syndrome, students with other disabilities, and the classrooms in which they learn are being segregated from the rest of the educational community. Although I never witness this occurring at my own town's schools, I have become aware from friends around the state and country that this is indeed a problem and should absolutely be addressed and fixed.
Kliewer begins his argument stating by segregating the special education to their own classrooms far away from the rest of the student population, this is only emphasizes the belief that some people hold that if a child is diagnosed with a disability, they are immediately rendered useless, unable to learn, and a threat to the learning of other students without disabilities. He then proceeds to say that if classrooms were changed to be more diverse and accepting towards all students no matter who they are, where they come from, and what is a part of their lives, the educational community would greatly advance and improve the lives and self-esteem of countless individuals,. Additionally, this change would give all students the right they deserve to feel important regarding their educational experience and that they are cared about. Lastly, and probably most importantly, Kliewer expressed in his argument that in today's society, and in the future's, people must stop stereotyping, labelling, or naming others for being different than themselves because it will only prevent us from ever having a good and understanding democratic society. Through this, Kliewer states that we will be able to form "... actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" (Page 74). Additionally, he enforces that being able to attend school, students with disabilities, especially Down Syndrome, are given opportunities to gain "(1) literacy development, of central importance in experiencing school success, and (2) friendship formation, a possible consequence of being recognized as communally valuable" (Page 74), which will greatly improve their likelihood to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
Although this reading had to do with the segregation of classrooms, such as in the "Brown vs. Board" readings we did in class, I felt that this particular reading was more closely related to that of the "Safe Spaces" reading by A. Vaccaro, G. August, and M.S. Kennedy. Both readings focused on the fact that schools need to strictly enforce that their classrooms are welcoming and open to anyone, regardless of their differences to others. Although "Safe Spaces" was more geared towards defending students of the LGBTQ community and Kliewer's reading on students with disabilities, they both had one thing in common; they discussed helping and defending students who are being discriminated against because of their DNA. No one chooses to be gay, bisexual, or straight, it's just a part of who they, just as it is for someone to be diagnosed with a mental or physical disability. We should embrace those in the world who are different from us and let them know they are important, not ship them off to segregated classrooms or ridicule them.
Question to Share:
I know several others have asked this question in their own blogs, but I thought it was an important question to be address: has anyone ever been in a school environment where special education students were segregated from the rest of the school community? I know in my own high school, students with disabilities were given a classroom of their own to work on their schoolwork with their aids, but they were integrated into the rest of the school environment for their legitimate classes (math, science, English, history, phys. ed, etc.). Did anyone else have a school like this, or was it completely different?