The special education classrooms in schools always occurred to me as something beneficial for a special needs student/child. I thought when children were placed into these specific classes it was for their best interest and to help them, but this is what Kliewer's finds issues with. We are treating these students in a way that they are viewed as disabled, or not able to help themselves. This is our schools stripping that "citizenship" (Kliewer) that all the other able students receive. In this text Kliewer mainly focuses in on Down Syndrome students who have had problems with not being looked at in a stereotypical way by their peers. They want the same opportunity as the rest. Down syndrome children can feel and recognize that everyone else does not see them as a person who can be a leader or do have the same curriculum as their regular ed peers.
"Such acceptance is the aim when children with Down syndrome join their non-disabled peers in classrooms, which seeks and finds community value in all children" (Kliewer 74).
I believe this quote directly shows Kliewer's goal in why he is writing this piece. He wants teachers and educators all over to recognize the disconnect that these students feel and to integrate them into the classrooms that have no special label. The Down syndrome children are seeking that citizenship inside the classroom and that equal spot and opportunity that their classmates are given. Everyone is different and learns differently, and I used to think the goals of special ed classrooms was to better that child and specifically target their needs, but it is hindering them and making them feel that difference even more. Self worth is truly the important lesson that anyone can teach a child.
"Shayne did not, however, interpret a child's nonconformity to developmental theory as a manifestation or defect. 'So what' she continued, 'if you don't fit exactly what your supposed to? You know it's not like I fit many peoples ideas of what a teacher's supposed to be like'. Shayne recognized a child's nonconformity as natural human diversity; a source of strength that could be supported by the school community in order that it adds a unique and valuable dimension to that community" (Kliewer 77-78).
This quote shows an example of a teacher named Shayne Robbins who views her integrated classroom as an amazing thing. She recognizes that these children have a specific learning plan developed by a team of people, but she does not let that take away from their feeling of equality in her classroom. She honors the differences and sees it as a great thing. The differences should be looked at in this positive way. They should be viewed not as a disability but as just another way of thinking or being. Children in the educational world are viewed as needing "help" when they do not test are highly or efficiently as everyone else. However, it is not extra help that they are asking for, but an equal opportunity as everyone else who is not categorized in our society as disabled.
"In this way, schools would become locations that much more closely mirror what and who are valued in a participatory democracy" (Kliewer 81).
I found this quote both interesting and important. This quote is directly showing that our school communities represent the actual society we all live in. If we do not honor these students that are viewed as disabled in a school context, than in real life they will also be not involved. Our society has to remove the stereotypes of these "disabled" persons right from the beginning in the schools so later on in life they will have that self worth and confidence to be an active member of society, and also so the other "regular" students will not view the "disabled" ones as just that, disabled. This will create a better functioning and more opportunistic society.
I feel August would greatly appreciate what Kliewer's is fighting for. Creating a safe space where all children feel equal and feel as if there is no differences between them and their neighbor. This allows for the best education for all. It takes away stereotypes, and honors equal education and opportunity. It also creates a space where children will be able to learn to their max capacity because they are not worried about anything but the material they are being taught. Feeling comfortable and safe in a classroom is extremely important to both August and Kliewer.
Again it seems another author is speaking of integration. It seems our society enjoys categorizing all these "different" people. Then we wonder where stereotypes formed for people like children with Down Syndrome. They are viewed as different in every type of system in our society. Integration is the answer to all of these problems that revolve around unequal opportunity. However, there is never any big movement towards this happening. Is there a fear in our society, and our leaders of this country that if everyone gets the same opportunity than everyone will become an active member of society? Everyone should have the personal choice of how their viewed and treated, no one should be making that decision for them.