Sunday, November 17, 2013

Citizenship in School

     "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 develop­ mental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities." (Kingsley)
      Isn't that a peculiar statement; that there was even an assumption that those with disabilities were commonly believed to not be able to live "normal" lives? To me this statement speaks volumes. Some things obviously speak louder than others but the point stands; in order to get rid of a stereotype the issue itself has to be addressed.

      First off, the notion that a person can not enjoy a full life or even academic challenges if they'd like. The case with Mia Petersen is especially alarming.
     "I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special ed. almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, 1 wanted to cry. " (Peterson)
      I believe the most striking thing would be the fact that she had to go back to school after she had already graduated to take the classes she wanted to take. Now I'm all for not having students pushed beyond their limits, but that should be up to the student to decide and no one else. It's frustrating to hear as a student myself that in order to take the classes she found interesting she had to go back when she could have taken them while she was in school. To be held back because of a misconception is a tragedy within itself. It's cruel, unfair, and quite frankly ignorant on the part of the educators.
     Now of course it doesn't end with just the teachers. The idea that students with disabilities are viewed any differently than students that don't is a mistake. It's a view that people are trying to fight, as they should be. The view of "Citizenship in Schools" is an interesting concept because of the very definition of the word and the water it holds. The idea that "citizenship" is built upon listening rather than spoken word is, to me, key to having an equal citizenship in schools. The viewpoint of students in schools needs to be the same for each individual attends, and by following the standpoint of the community in the school, it can start easier than any other way.

So what can be done to prevent this from happening in the future? It's simplistic in concept, however because of misguided stigmas it may be more difficult. The problem can not be solved if it is not addressed, plain and simple. People need to learn that not every situation is the same, and if a student with a disability wants to take on a difficult class they should be given a chance to do so. They are, after all, students and they should be allowed to choose the classes they wish to take and feel good in doing so.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Promising Practices part 2

     It just occurred to me, as I'm sitting here at my desk racking my brains for some more ideas to add to my first post, that I really can't find anything at all to add from the conference portion. Don't get me wrong, at the workshops I learned a great deal and I enjoyed them for sure, but the panels were just aggravating at times. But then it hit me, I had a "Won't learn from you" moment. It just seemed like they weren't relatable speakers at all. The whole time it felt like "Hey see us up here? There's a reason for that, we're people and power and you are all just the lowly masses." Now I get that may seem a bit radical but in a sense it's what it felt like. Getting back to that point about the student that was pushed aside when he had a legitimate question, it felt like they were there to talk at us not to us. His question brought up a great issue and the panel almost laughed him off to the point of embarrassment. It was like he wasn't important enough to question them at all.
     I suppose that's why I couldn't retain much from the panel and even the speaker at lunch. There just seemed to be no personality to relate to as an aspiring teacher. The speakers for the majority of the time just spoke at the crowd with what seemed like questions they practiced and the mayor just seemed like he was speaking at just another political event. I'll be completely honest, there were many times that I just tuned out mentally. I know that's definitely not setting the greatest example in the world but it's the truth. There was no way a student could identify with any of the speakers and it just seemed like "Oh you better listen to these people because they are important". Nothing of real substance was ever answered and without that ability to relate it's almost impossible to retain anything because nothing they say seems important in the grand scheme of things. What are questions without answers? Or how about ideas without actions? These two questions are the main reason why I couldn't learn anything of substance from the combined over three hours of their speaking. It don't want to say it was a waste of time, after all I feel that if anything can make you think critically then it's very far from a waste, but it feels like all of this thought is stemming from the wrong things. I feel this is a legit criticism of what can be improved as a whole. Just find speakers who we as students can identify with, maybe some recent graduates from the school of education. Let them tell their stories, even if they haven't found their dream job yet their speaking would mean so much more to me as a student than some big wig in politics.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Promising Practices

   As I walked into Donovan last Saturday morning I didn't really know what to expect. First thing I noticed was name tags lined down in a row on multiple tables for people to pick up. These name tags had the names of the workshops we would attend for the day (thankfully because to be honest I had already forgotten which ones I had signed up for). I took a seat with the rest of the class as we waited for the conference to start.
    The first thing I want to point out would be the fact that this portion of the conference was much too long. I'm not trying to set a bad mood for my experience because let me state that it wasn't at all. However, I feel that the panel did not accomplish too much in the almost three hours they were up there. They just seemed to dance around many questions that seemed to be given prior to the event starting rather than provide answers to legitimate problems. The most striking moment from this portion would have to be when there was another student who was raising a legitimate issue and he kept getting rushed from the moderator. This caused the student to get flustered and to be honest I don't think he ever got the complete question out. I don't really remember what the poor guy had to say (and that's probably an indictment on myself as well) because I felt outraged for him. Was it because he appeared to be African American that this moderator didn't take the student seriously? Or was it because he was raising an actual issue that they hadn't thought of or had a political answer lined up for? Whatever the case may be I felt right there that the moderator had no credibility anymore as a professional. Perhaps I read too much into it but I felt that was very wrong to do to someone who showed enough effort to prepare his question in the manner he did. The could've showed him the professionalism that he had shown them.
   The mayor really wasn't much better in a sense. Mayor Angel Tavares did alright as a speaker, but much like the others on the panel, they really didn't have any answers. Questions were raised and like everyone else there danced around them never giving an answer to the issue. If anything he used this time to promote himself. The whole time the questions were addressed to him it really felt like he was running the campaign trail. Now I get it, he's a politician and he is running for governor at the time of this conference, but would it kill him to ease up on the self promotion and actually answer what could be done to help the education systems that need it? His major focus on the school system disparity in Rhode Island is the fact that the students are too lazy. Tavares basically stated that "if I could do it, anyone can". To me that just isn't a good enough answer. Somebody's personal accomplishments just isn't a large enough sample size to state that there isn't a problem. Nothing against him at all but it's almost like he couldn't see the bigger picture because of his own personal success. To me it's a great example of being in power and not seeing the privileges they might have had.
    My favorite part of the day came from the individual workshops we went to. Granted, I thought that this was going to be the majority of the day and not about two hours. They were informative and the ideals they had for their programs were fantastic. I honestly wished that they had some more time to explain things to us because they actually seemed genuine rather than the aforementioned panel. But I definitely enjoyed my time at the two and I don't really have any complaints concerning them.
    Between those two experiences I can say that next year they should distribute the time better than what thy did this year. I felt that they could've made a difference in attitude to the students there if they had more time at the workshops rather than have the panel last three hours. They actually had answers to issues that is plaguing the education system so why not spend more time there? If they do that next year I can say with the utmost confidence that they will see a difference from student reaction.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Seperate but Equal" An ideal thrown to the wayside

           To start off this post I'm going to come out and say how I feel personally; segregation is alive and well in current day America. Now I'm a  bit of a history buff and knew about the case Brown Vs. The Board of Education before it was mentioned on the Professor's blog. While it was a win in the ever changing struggle for equality it was a very slight one. While education systems agreed upon an equal opportunity for all races there was still a divide in the school systems themselves over the years. Segregation is alive due to economic constraints rather than just race now. Rather than segregation through race and education being affected by that it is now affected by who can afford a private school for their children. The people who can afford these private schools can expect their children to receive a better education than those in public schools. This also has implications on where they can apply to college, because it is no secret that colleges will always look to those in private schools before those in public schools if the grades are similar. It's just a sense of superiority due to something the student themselves can't control; their family's economic situation. This is eerily similar to the very thing that was fought for in the case of Brown Vs. The Board of Education, equal opportunity for every student. How can a student be responsible for their parents' living situation anymore than they can be responsible for what they are as a human being? It's just as simple as that students are still being punished for things they can't control almost 60 years after the fact.
        Speaking of things taking awhile to advance Barack Obama was the first African American to be elected president after over 200 years of the country being independent from Britain. Now I'm not going to get into a political debate on how I think Obama is doing with the country because that is not the basis of my argument at all. What I am arguing would be the longevity of just white males being elected in this time period. If equality was achieved in 1954 in the education system then perhaps it wouldn't have been a stretch to believe that maybe even in 30 years someone other than a white male would have been thought of as a presidential candidate. Well as history has shown us that wasn't the case. There is even still a racism with Obama being elected president according to author Tim Wise because their is the idea of Barack Obama being considered at times to be "Outside the black and brown norm" To also paraphrase Tim Wise, he basically says "Thinking that America will go into a post-racial point would be just as absurd to think that Pakistan is any less of a sexist community because of their elected official in the 80's". Much like the education system there is still blockades to actual advancements because of the ideals that people are different, and in a sense, still segregated.
       The separate but equal phrase held no water ever because to imply that something is different means that they aren't equal. If a difference has to be distinguished then the ideal of equality is a falsehood in that scenario. I just personally feel that we aren't moving fast enough as a society in the right direction. Not speaking morally of course because that's an entirely different thing and an argument for another day, but in the argument of equality of education in the country it's still just too slow. While one problem is slowly being fixed another one arises. There needs to be a sense of equality from student to student, and one should not be seen as superior over the other because they went to a "special school".