Tuesday, December 20, 2016


The Kliewer reading reminded me of a documentary that I had watched in a social work class, which I think everyone should watch at some point. The film is called Wretches and Jabberers, and it is about two men with autism who communicate through typing and become global advocates for changing the perception of disability. Although the reading and the documentary focused on different disabilities, the messages are quite similar. Both talk about how people with disabilities have strengths and are no less intelligent than peers, despite not meeting certain markers. Here is a clip of the two men speaking to an audience of teachers:

Shoshone school, which Kliewer discusses in his piece, seems excellent, so I wanted to find more examples of similar schools.  I did not get a whole lot of results, but I did find this video of an elementary school in the U.K. for a series called "Inclusion Working in 2015." It isn't perfect or in accordance with the ideas of all our other authors, there are some charity-esque elements and the school is almost entirely white, but it is a pretty great example of inclusion of students with disabilities.

In an earlier post, I talked about how Best Buddies sometimes felt more like charity than change, but after reading this text, I revisited their website. I am not sure if the group at my school is taking the same approach, but there does seem to be a lot of change-oriented resources and content, especially regarding employment and inclusive language. Here is a link to their “Advocate” page under the “Take Action” tab. The organization in some ways aligns with Kleiwer, because they recognize the strengths in people, try to change perceptions of disability, and provide a space for both self-advocacy and advocacy by others for inclusiveness in our society. However, Kleiwer discusses redefining citizenship while Best Buddies seems to try to prove that we should not have to.

As a final note, here is a video created by Megan Bomgaars, a person with Down Syndrome, that is really powerful, and demonstrates points laid out by Kliewer (and Oakes!).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TAL, Herbert, and Brown v Board of Ed

The last one came out all weird so I'm trying again.
I chose to do a connections post on TAL, Herbert, and the Brown v. Board of Ed. website. All three sources talk about the issue of segregation in schools. The Brown v. Board website has information about the case that supposedly ended the issue, but the other two, and especially This American Life, provide examples and evidence of modern-day segregation, despite also providing proof that it would be the most effective way to improve schools. Because of the fact that those with privilege believe segregation to be a thing of the past, the first connection I saw was to Johnson. He discussed the luxury of obliviousness, the idea that thinking privilege and injustices, such as racism, do not exist is a privilege itself. One example of someone experiencing the luxury of obliviousness would be the mother in the story of Normandy in TAL who says that her opposition to integrating her children’s school is “not a race issue.” Johnson is the one who said we have to say the words, and this woman refused to believe they were even applicable.

Brown v Board of Ed was not the end of the story.
There were also some very strong ties to Delpit’s arguments, specifically in the TAL episode. One that stood out, for example, was the story of one particular student, Cameron, at the Normandy high school. He was an honors and AP student enrolled in the most challenging academic classes at the school, and he only had one teacher who actually taught. In college level classes, he was being completely under-prepared, not taught the rules and codes of power, and definitely not taught enough to come prepped for a real college course. There is also a connection to Shor here (no surprise here, now that I check, given he is conducting the interview), because in one of his other AP classes, Cameron was given a middle school level worksheet that he was able to finish in five minutes, which does not foster meaningful learning at all and also does not encourage any participation, which Shor says is crucial to learning.

Kahne and Westheimer would also point out that any efforts to “change” schools, which Hannah-Jones frustratedly rattles off examples of, such as replacing teachers, replacing curriculum, and sending school supplies, are actually all just acts of charity. They are short-term, less effective “solutions” that really just avoid integration, the real but less palatable change.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sesame Street

Decided these were worth sharing!



Delpit (rules & codes of power w/o putting down one style or other):

Oakes and Finn

Argument post

Oakes argues that tracking is an unjust policy that is detrimental to the learning of those placed in lower tracks, and Finn shows that it also plays out on a larger scale in accordance with social class structures, with the children of the elite and wealthy in higher tracks and children of the working class in significantly lower ones. This implies then, as the other texts from this class have already done, that there is little to no mobility for those who start in a lower, more disadvantaged class. Oakes says, for example, that students who are tracked as “low ability” are not exposed to the same materials or given help developing the same skills as those tracked as high ability. In turn, Finn discusses how teachers in working class schools seem to treat all of their students as lower ability, and how “work” and “knowledge” have different meanings in classrooms of different socioeconomic status. Students will never learn what it means to learn in classes other than their own, which affects everything in the classroom, down to the student-teacher dynamic. 
To bring Delpit into the mix, students of lower socioeconomic status are not being taught the rules and codes of power to be successful in a higher class, such as an elite college or career path. This is even exemplified in Finn’s analysis of teachers in the different schools; the only ones who taught above their own level of privilege were those teachers who came from the top ten percent and taught the top one percent. Oakes shows how schools fail when they expect less of students in lower tracks, and never grant them the mobility to move up in their tracking, and Finn takes this even farther to a much grander scale, with the implications that our entire system is failing by expecting less of people in lower socioeconomic “tracks,” and training them to stay there. Since Oakes says that schools need to adopt a new policy, such as classrooms that integrate students of various levels, Finn’s piece could act as support for change such as integration of schools as a whole.

This isn't exactly a blog post (A Note About August)

August talks about the importance of inclusive curriculum and safe spaces in the classroom. Teachers and youth workers need to provide room for their students/youth to talk about what is actually important and relevant to them, especially parts of themselves that may not align with SCWAAMP. It is also important, I think, for us to stay educated and informed about social issues, if not visibly and actively fighting for justice, like my Promising Practices presenter who has one of his protest signs in the classroom. This isn't about being able to detach ourselves from the problem, I hope we have all learned that that's not how it works, and that we benefit from privilege whether we think it's fair or not. It's about showing that we mean it when we call our spaces "safe," not just putting a sticker on the wall. It is an entirely different experience to be in the class of a person who never mentions LGBTQ issues, but still has the sticker and is technically "someone you can talk to," than to be in the class of a teacher or professor who talks knowledgeably and currently about social justice. This class was the latter, and I hope to provide spaces that feel this genuinely safe in the future.

For every day:

For crises prevention:

Kahne and Westheimer

For this post, I am going to do a reflection. Kahne and Westheimer’s “In the Service of What?” really got me thinking about the ideas of charity versus change. Reflecting on my experiences, I realize that I have been a part of a lot of charity, but I really want to help create change.
In high school, I remember feeling like I was a good person. I had been super involved in the Community Service Club, and became its president my senior year. I loved it, but I remember having issues with the new policy in the school requiring community service hours, because I didn’t think it should count as volunteering if you were forced to do it. I also had brought a chapter of Best Buddies, an organization that creates friendships and hopes to eliminate some barriers between students with developmental disabilities and students without them. While the organization has a mission of putting itself out of business, and can be change-oriented (and did create some change even within my school as far as leading to a Unified Sports team and the special education department becoming less isolated from the rest of the school), it seemed like a lot of students who took part in it were doing so out of pity or because it was a “nice thing to do.” Part of me felt like they were right, it was nice, but the other part of me was sort of annoyed and wondering if we were all missing the point. I had to question my own ideas and beliefs as well. As I left high school and stopped being involved, I wondered if I had become less of a good person. I mean, I wasn’t doing so much for other people anymore, so what else could that mean?

I think Kahne and Westheimer really just gave me the words to think about and formalize these questions and problems that I’d had, and also to examine how my perspectives have shifted. For example, they talked about how acts of charity create a distance between the one acting and the one “receiving,” and how this creates a perception of those on the receiving end of charity as “clients.” I don’t think charities are bad, exactly, they can help in crisis situations and that’s important. I just also now understand that what I am really looking to be a part of is change. This class and this text are fueling the idea that I don’t want to think in terms of “those in need” and “those less fortunate,” but in terms of systemic privileges and disadvantages that affect us all, and I am not always sure how to do that. I know that, as we talked about in class, change does not always make you feel like a “good person” as charity did for me in the past, but I hope I will practice what I preach as I move forward and be a part of change anyway.

Map the Authors