Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stop Segregating Students With Disabilties

Talking Points #8 - Hyperlinks on "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" 

Becky from Glee! :D

This week while reading Christopher Kliewer's "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome", I decided that I would center my blog around hyperlinks leading back to Kliewer's argument. The major purpose of this article was to show how inclusion for all student's with disabilties is important and that inclusion is achieved by citizenship; in other words citizenship is synonomous with not marginalizing a child in the classroom based on stereotypes that have to do with a disablity they may have.  While searching the web, I found an amazing article that works very well with this Kliewer's article.   This site articulates why classroom inclusion is important for those who have Down Syndrome.  Down Syndrome is actively talked about by Kliewer and he provides a lot of interesting anecdotes to illustrate his purpose This purpose is made clear when Kliewer quotes Jason Kingsley, "Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The Challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities."The above hyperlinked website builds off of this quote in the section entitled "Overcoming Barriers" because it talks about how most children with disabilities are educated in separate classrooms. These barriers are made up of stereotypes by those who view disability whether it's Down Syndrome or something else as an inability to learn adequately. Kliewer was talked about citizenship and how a student with disabilities will excel when they are not labeled as "someone with a disability." 

Genetic Make Up of Down Syndrome

Kilewer provides great anecdotes depicting instances where teachers are including students with disabilities and using their strengths to enhance classroom learning; this is where the true citizenship is being formed.  He focuses in on one teacher in particular, Shayne Robbins who really took the time to understand her students as individuals rather than students that were ablebodied and those who aren't. She really took time to learn about Isaac's love for reading and how he liked to act it out and therefore they did a play where Isaac's strengths were reinforced like the rest of his peers!

Above is an episode of the hit 80's television sitcom, The Facts of Life. Who else used to love this show? Even though, it aired a decade before I was born, I quickly came to love it through nick at nite reruns! However to get back at the subject at hand, I thought this hyperlink would fit in just perfectly. When Kilewer was telling us the story about Christine, a student with Down Syndrome who had her own column called "Chistine's Corner" in the newspaper I was immediately brought back to this hilarious sitcom. Christine very informatively wrote a response to a school that was not allowing a student with cerebral palsy in their schools.  Christine says, "She's not allowed in a school because of her handicaps." She then states, "Just because she is handicapped doesn't mean she can't learn." "She's just just got to do what she can do, which can be just about anything."  Christine's words transported me back to one summer night when I was child watching the nick at nite marathons. I rememebered in particular, The Facts of Life episode in which Cousin Geri came to visit which is the video above. Geri has cerebral palsy and is cousins with one of the main characters, Blair. As you can see from the show Geri is very educated and the woman playing that role whose name is Geri does in fact have cerebral palsy.  Ask yourself, if cerebral palsy is such a hindering disability that is not worthy of schooling, how does Geri Jewel fit that mold? She can't because it takes a lot of talent to do what she does and from the watching her act, she doesn't seem like someone that "can't learn." This is where the issue of stereotypes come into play. In Kliewer's article he references to a teacher named Colleen who said that you wouldn't be able to pick out the student with the disability and that are stereotypes are the reason for that, "It's not Lee that you're picking out. It's your stereotype, your mind-set. It's you, and it has nothing to do with Lee." 

The two major texts that I can relate this article to are, Safe Spaces and the Brown vs. Board of Education website only because there are issues that intersect these pieces. Kilewer kept talking about disabled children being segregated in separate classrooms and I couldn't help but think of how it was for African American children under Jim Crow laws back in the day when they were segregated in education.  This got me thinking if educational segregation still exists, I started to formulate an answer by thinking that it does but it takes a different form; instead of segregating children by color, there are some who are doing it by ablebodiedness. Then I can also relate this article to the Safe Spaces article because of the anecdote about John who moved to Mendocino and was actually treated like a human being and not labeled by his disability.  John was able to call Mendocino a safe space and with safe spaces, you enhances and create that citizenship that Kilewer was preaching about in his article. 

Point to Share: 

I think this article is helpful to all aspiring teachers because we need to take into account that there are students that have disabilities and that we need to practice inclusion.  By reading this article, I have learned that we need to get to know each student as an individual and making the feel apart of the community. We must also create safe spaces where education can take place( I loved the reinforce of Geri August's argument).  With this said, what are some ways that we can always make sure that students who have disabilities will feel included, safe, and welcomed to learn?


  1. Love your blog Alex as always !!!!
    I love how you have the ability to relate our reading topics to pop culture. I also enjoyed the Facts of Life.

  2. Hi Alex,
    Your blogs are always so fun to read/look at! I really found myself agreeing with you when you said "This got me thinking if educational segregation still exists, I started to formulate an answer by thinking that it does but it takes a different form; instead of segregating children by color, there are some who are doing it by ablebodiedness." I thought that was such a powerful statement and liked how it connected back to our SCWAAMP activity from class. I also enjoyed the Facts of Life video. I'm going to have the theme song stuck in my head all night!