Friday, April 4, 2014

Kliewer, "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome"

Before I ever start this post, I just wanted to let everyone know that you should avoid libraries near schools. I'm in the library right now in Johnston and there are hundreds of little middle schools who WON'T STOP TALKING. I'm so mad right now. I thought libraries were meant to be quiet? Anyways, this is a "quotes" AND "connections" post, since I already did everything I'm making this a combined one :)

P.S. This is the first time I ever read something in one sitting (it was really interesting)

I think one quote that pretty much summed up a large chunk of this piece was: "diversity is viewed as normal, people are considered of equal worth, relationships are of a mutual benefit, and belongings is a central societal theme" (95). Well, it didn't really sum this article up but this is how disabilities should be viewed. As I was reading all of Kliewer's piece and every individual story, I felt that the theme going on was that you can't view a disability as a bad thing. You have to find the positives and focus on them instead of only looking about the disadvantages.

There was a story about a boy named John Mcgough. Before they even started off the story, they said that when a child has a disability, it's hard for people to recognize that child as a child. He used to live in one part of California where they didn't really accept him. He was left out of numerous activities, did not have any friends, and the school labeled him as "uneducable". WHO DOES THAT. As soon as John moved to a different area of California, everything changed (for the better). Everyone looked past his abnormalities and saw the real John. He was friends with all of his neighbors, everyone in his town, and he was finally accepted. That's all he wanted all along. During this part, there was a quote from one of his siblings that said, "Mendocino [the town John moved to] is what John needed-it's what he never had in North Hollywood. It's safe-what he calls a "safe space." Like a lot of people in Mendocino, he's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. And he can concentrate on what he can do, instead of being shown or being told what he can't do" (86). This reminded me of August and "Safe Spaces" (not just because it literally says safe space). Once John moved, you could clearly see a change in his life. He wasn't isolated or left out for once. Once people didn't label him or look at him in a bad way, he was able to be accepted. He felt safe as soon as this happened. Although it took him a while, once he felt comfortable (and once people were comfortable with him), he was able to feel comfort in his every day life. 

I also wanted to relate John Mcgough's story to another author that we have read. It's not the best connection, but this quote reminded me of someone: "By the end of John's first year in Mendocino he was holding down two part time jobs; taking weekly voice, art, and guitar lessons; attending aerobics classes five mornings a week; occasionally reading stories to kids at the local preschool; helping his mother teach a class on self-esteem to a group of  troubled adolescents; making daily visiting"rounds" in the community; and going out to dance or listen to music at least five nights a week. He had numerous friends and acquaintances, and he was daily becoming more verbal and more assertive" (89). What does this remind you of?! QUICK, QUICK! Okay, I'll tell you. This reminded me of Herbert's article! Herbert mentioned how drastically where you live can affect your education. He wasn't necessarily talking about children with disability, but this (in a way) was very relevant! You can see that John was clearly not being treated fairly, or right, when he lived in North Hollywood. Once he got out of that bad area and moved to Mendocino, his life was improved in numerous ways. As you can see with the previous quote, his life drastically changed. From being the child that no one included in any activities, that was isolated and "uneducable", to this new person who had two jobs, was constantly out in his community and accepted. This was all because of his change in location. It's amazing. 

Now that you guys have heard way too much about John, let's talk about Christine! Christine was in special educated classes for FOURTEEN YEARS. Her mom wanted to change that and put her in regular classes when she started high school. Christine struggled a lot at first, she had "extremely poor motor control, low-level cognitive skills, low-level communication skills, a lack of adaptive skills, and aggressive "acting-out" behaviors" (92). But this was a whole new thing for her, she has never been in a regular classroom. After going to school for a few weeks or months (they weren't very specific on that), she improved a lot! Her communication skills were better, her social skills, she was out in the community, and her fine and gross motor skills improved. This reminded me of the article I read by Jeannie Oakes. On page 178 in Oake's "Tracking" article, it says "since so much of importance was omitted from their curriculum, students in the low-ability classes were likely to have little contact with the knowledge and the skills that would allow them to move into higher classes or to be successful if they got there". This reminded me of Christine's situation because she was being deprived of the skills that higher classes had. That explains why she was struggling so much when she finally went into regular classes. Once she was able to understand what was going on, she was doing better and better! At one point, Christine even said "I have down syndrome, but I am not handicapped" (93).

I stumbled upon this article from the NBC News about how disabled workers were being paid PENNIES an hour... but it was legal!? My mind literally just got blown... again. I think you should really check this article out because it's awful. People with disabilities should be treated just the same as us. Just because they are handicapped in a certain area doesn't mean that they have any less value than we do. 


  1. I loved your blog!! So much, I used it as the basis for mine :) You can check it out! Great points and connections :))

  2. loved your post! so proud of you for reading in one sitting haha! You did a really great job with connections and bringing all the articles together! yay!

  3. Brandy it is a great post. I read the NBC link and and so pissed, only partly because of the absurdly low wages, but because I know so many people close to retirement who have been phased out of work and are making $10/Hr, but for under 40 hours so the employers don't have to pay medical insurance. don't get me started. . . . :)

  4. Hey! I loved your post! Like I really really liked! I loved the quotes you chose, and I just enjoyed reading! you did a great job! The article you included made me so mad, because just as you said, people with disabilities shouldn't be treated any different from us.

  5. Hey Brandy, awesome post ! I loved all those quotes you picked. And the pictures you included too! Also great article you included at the end! Great job girl !