Sunday, November 17, 2013

Talking Points #9: Quotes on Kliewer's “Schooling Children with Down Syndrome"

A) Kliewer, Christopher. Schooling Children with Down Syndrome: Toward an Understanding of Possibility (Special Education Series). New York, N.Y.: Teachers College Press, 1998. Print.

1) "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. (Kingsley, 1996, p. 6)" (Kliewer 71).

    Schooling Children with Down Syndrome provides others with a look into the educational opportunities that can be available to students with Down Syndrome when society's negative judgments of those with disabilities is disregarded. Those who are considered less privileged may not fit into the mold created by society. This is where judgment arises, and this is where difference evolves. Everyone should be valued. We were created to be one people. Why can't we allow for this to be a reality? How can we permit for society to say otherwise? Barriers are constructed and stereotypes evolve concerning individuals with disabilities when others cast judgment on them. Kliewer quoted a line stated by Paulo Freire: "How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own? (p. 71)" (Kliewer 73). This is where judgment stems. How can one look negatively on another without examining his/her own faults? Why should he or she perceive the innocent in a negative light in the first place? In this text, Kliewer explores a number of situations in which students with Down Syndrome had their lives altered for the better when these negative barriers were broken, and when stereotypes were cast aside.
2) "How absurd to be judged by others at all, especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don't listen to the voices we have. (Snow, p. 12)" (Kliewer 72).

    In the text, Christopher Kliewer emphasizes that dialogue is an important part of establishing community, that "democracy can only occur when no person's voice is deterministically silenced" (Kliewer 72). Society often overlooks recognizing the humanity and individuality of a single person. Society mistakenly attributes the negative to one who is diagnosed with a disability, never truly emphasizing his/her individuality and abilities. Kliewer quotes Paulo Freire in regards to this silence and judgment. Freire states that "Dialogue cannot occur... between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. (p. 69)" (Kliewer 72-73). Kliewer's text explores the challenges that students with Down Syndrome face involving society, and how community is established when their voices are heard. The examples of John Mcgough and Christine Durovich demonstrate how society can segregate those with disabilities, but when community makes an effort to work together, the silence disappears and the true individual shines through. Shayne Robbins of Shoshone School was a perfect example of a teacher who catered to each individual child, and did not segregate students due to disabilities. Rather, Shayne established a sense of community within her classroom, and valued each student while providing them each with support and beneficial learning experiences. Shayne listened to her students, and did not dismiss their dialogue (whether spoken or through motion). There is an importance and value to listening. In Schooling Children with Down Syndrome, Kliewer advocates for listening to others, and through this action, one shows that another is valued.

3) "[Community] requires a willingness to see people as they are - different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or in their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society. (Snow, p. 12)" (Kliewer 73).
    Colleen Madison, the second-grade teacher of Lee Larson, a child with Down Syndrome, reflected on society's judgment of those with disabilities: "That's what they see, but they wouldn't be seeing him [Lee]... It's your stereotype, your mind-set" (Kliewer 84). Why does society retain such a tendency to view people differently, and to not take in regards one's strengths and individuality? With the example of John Mcgough, John's move to Mendocino was for the better. "[H]e's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. (quoted in Andrews, 1995, p. 105)" (Kliewer 86). In Mendocino, community was formed to recognize the value and importance of each member. The establishment of community is a model that we should follow, that should already be in existence. Kliewer states that "opportunity cannot exist outside of community acceptance" (Kliewer 75). Society's perception of those with disabilities creates a false image, and results in exclusion and oppression. Kliewer reinforces this issue by writing, "It is not the individual who owns the problem; rather, the dilemma exists in the interconnected relationships that both form and hinder community" (Kliewer 94).

I found that Christopher Kliewer's Schooling Children with Down Syndrome could be connected to a number of our class readings. Two of the themes that I felt were quite present in Kliewer's text were the issues of silence and segregation:
  • So many students with Down Syndrome have been segregated in their schooling due to their disability. This segregation by disability sometimes results in frustration and sadness. When teachers and schools based classroom curriculum on the individual needs of students, the results were wonderful. The case of Brown v. Board of Education initiated the Civil Rights Movement. Segregation in schools was a major issue during this time, and it resulted in unequal educational opportunities for blacks, as well as unfair treatment by society. When Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned, racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional, and schools would later work to offer equal educational opportunities.
  • In "Aria," Richard Rodriguez explored the frustrations of having his voice silenced due to having to deal with the language barrier. Kliewer's text presents the issues created by society that are posed at students with Down Syndrome and disabilities. There are barriers in the educational field regarding children with disabilities, and these barriers result in segregation and silence. So many voices have been silenced due to society's recognition of disabilities, rather than the recognition and value of abilities and individuality.

Additional References:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Rodriguez, Richard. "Aria." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 34-39. Print.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Social Justice Event: Reflection on Diversity Week

On October 7th, I attended two Social Justice events that took place on campus during Diversity Week. After partaking in these events, I found that I could directly link each event to readings that we have done in class.

Diversity Week Events:
  • Sociology 208 - Minority Group Relations (Open Class)
  • Interfaith Center Forum
Sociology 208 - Minority Group Relations
    The first Diversity Week event that I attended was an open sociology class on minority group relations. The primary focus of the lesson for that particular day was on the issue regarding the concepts of "whiteness" and "blackness" in society. As I took notes during the lecture, I felt that I could relate the themes discussed in the sociology class to the issues of white privilege and racism that we have discussed in class. Racism, the treatment of certain groups, issues of privilege in society, and confronting societal issues surfaced. Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" was also brought into the sociology class discussion.
    The Discussion Surrounding the Sociology Lesson:
    Whiteness is not to be mistaken as identity, but rather, should be regarded as a structure. It is a structural logic, and the idea of "whiteness" enacts power to those who promote it, namely white supremacists (those who promote anti-blackness). Society argues that whiteness is a "normative" reality of everyday life, and that any individual can inhabit whiteness. Yet whiteness is a code for white supremacy. Under white supremacy, the concept of anti-blackness originates.
    Being both human and a citizen is considered of universal logic, separate from the structural premise of white supremacy. As humans, we are entitled to rights. The universal concept is that we, as both humans and citizens, are granted civil rights. Civil rights are also human rights, therefore as a human, an individual can be a victim. Blacks are victimized, but social logic claims that blacks are not victims. The ideology of white supremacy calls blackness "non-human." These ideas derive from the concept of "anti-blackness."
    The structure of identity differentiates from other societal structures. However, these concepts present what is considered of value to society. Discrimination plays a major role in these ideologies, but it serves as part of a larger enterprise. Blackness is viewed as at the bottom of the societal structure, and anti-blackness is where discrimination is at. (For example, southern Italians were discriminated against because their living location was close to the African continent. White supremacists considered them black. Joseph Stalin was white racially, and murdered whites. He had a white supremacist mindset.)
   White supremacy is still in existence, and anti-blackness can root itself in any individual. One must remember that white supremacy has nothing to do with racial identity. Civil society never attended to anti-blackness. Anti-blackness is not just a term targeting blacks. The term is called racism as opposed to anti-blackness and white supremacy.
    In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Du Bois presents that the problem of the system is anti-blackness/white supremacy. In this particular sociology class, the professor stated that Du Bois' text focused on the topic of: "You know what the problem is. What are you going to do?" (*This idea is exactly what Allan G. Johnson and Linda Christensen promote.) White supremacy is soulless, and those who adopt the immoral ideology are soulless, regardless of their racial identity. White supremacy and anti-blackness corrupt pureness, for the structure itself is soulless.
    White privilege reestablishes these issues. It involves the use of micro-aggressions, which are viewed as affirmative actions to the idea of white privilege in society. The behavior of members of society leads to a re-perpetuation of the structure. The basis of society is structural, but one can still combat it somewhat from the inside. One can resist white supremacy by working against the structure, and embracing blackness.
Interfaith Center Forum
    The second Diversity Week event that I attended was the Interfaith Forum in the Interfaith Center. All participants discussed personal faith backgrounds and contributed ideas to the forum in regards to what would interest both students and staff, as well as make the Interfaith Center inviting to the entire campus community. It was quite a welcoming environment, and the group seemed to value each individual's perspective on potential activities. The course theme that I felt was most prevalent in the Interfaith Forum was the idea of creating a safe space (*August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro's Safe Spaces) for all.
    The basis of the discussion of the forum was for everyone to embrace faith, and to be respectful of religion. The group offered input as to what activities could be developed in the Interfaith Center that would allow for people of the same faith or different faiths to come together. In a sense, this could relate to the idea of an integrated curriculum. The creation of artwork and music, and icebreakers were taken into account as possible activities for members of the campus community to participate in. What would make the community feel invited and comfortable? The Interfaith Forum also sought to educate others that it serves as a place to go on campus when one is seeking help or is in distress. Someone may need a friend or may simply would like to get to know others. Students and staff have stated that they have either taken interest in learning more about their personal faiths, or about other faiths.
    Safe Spaces provides a number of methods for educators to use to help make schools safer places for LGBT youth. The Interfaith Center is trying to adopt new tools to ensure a safe experience, and I do believe that it is a safe environment for all of the campus community.
Text References:
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk, Dover Thrift Editions. Dover Publications; Unabridged Edition, 1994. Print.
McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." Independent School Winter 1990: 1-6. Print.
Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.
Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.
August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Talking Points #7: Free Response on “Readings" on Brown v. Board of Education

A) Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Wise, Tim. "Between Barack and a Hard Place." Ring of Fire. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Herbert, Bob. "Separate and Unequal." New York Times 21 Mar. 2011. Op-Ed: A27. Print.

What is the relationship between the historical issues you see in the website on Brown v. Board of Education and the contemporary issues of race that Bob Herbert and Tim Wise raise here?
There is an interconnected relationship between the historical issues that I see in the website on Brown v. Board of Education and the contemporary issues of race that Bob Herbert and Tim Wise raise. All three deal with the issues of equality and segregation in society, although each differentiates in forms of equality/segregation.

Historical Issues
May 17, 1954 marked a pivotal moment in history. The case of Brown v. Board of Education sparked the initiation of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, with the segregation of race in education being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
    Although the Civil War abolished slavery in the United States, racial division continued to be an issue in society. Segregation developed as a result of the unjust and unfair mindset of some white Americans. These white Americans valued "whiteness," thus laws and regulations in each state began to surface promoting segregation. Even with the existence of the Reconstruction Amendments, much inequality developed. The Amendments posed new equalities to blacks, but segregation itself did not conform to these laws, but rather, acted contrary to them. Voting rights, although one of the many steps taken in helping to support complete freedom for African Americans, was dismissed, therefore not enabling freedom, but limiting it. This occurred as a result of the actions of whites who had chosen to oppress blacks, the "white supremacists." Segregation was also enacted through the Jim Crow Legislation laws, as well as political campaigns. The Civil War had eliminated the issue of slavery, yet society's treatment of African Americans proved that everything was far from equal.
    Efforts were taken by African Americans, Chinese Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, and whites [who had chosen not to oppress], to strive for racial equality. Many of the cases presented in court ruled in favor of segregation. The case of Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that segregation was not unconstitutional because there "was no discrimination." Yet segregation itself was wrong, unequal, immoral, and everything discriminatory. A series of cases then appeared in both federal courts and the Supreme Court surrounding the major issue that segregation created involving citizens' rights to an equal education. Communities fought back to the unjust treatment that they faced in schools. Public schooling was viewed by Americans as an essential element in establishing democracy. Yet segregation set so many children apart from this "entitlement."    Some judges then ruled in favor of racial desegregation in schools. African Americans took laborious efforts to construct a legal plan that would combat segregation. Howard University School of Law and NAACP were among the institutions that aided in promoting this battle. Lawsuits arose that challenged segregated school systems. Charles Hamilton Houston, the Vice Dean of the Howard University School of Law in 1929, was one of the most influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement. He took considerable efforts to put an end to this discrimination against blacks. Houston's personal experience with racial prejudice as an artillery officer influenced him into the practice of law, and he took on a number of civil rights cases. Houston also created a program at the Howard University School of Law that integrated civil rights into the curriculum. He trained world-class lawyers, as well as mentored and graduated Thurgood Marshall (*pictured). Houston helped to found the National Bar Association, and was also a leader of the NAACP. Marshall argued a number of cases that were successful.
    NAACP's Legal Defense Fund won a significant amount of cases, drawing attention to the issue of segregation in all grade levels: Kindergarten through university. The Brown v. Board of Education case first appeared in Topeka Kansas, when Oliver Brown joined the lawsuit. Brown's daughter, Linda, was forced to walk a series of blocks to reach the bus stop that would take her to the black elementary school. The white school was only seven blocks from her home, but Linda had to travel over a mile to attend school because she was black. Following the NAACP's input, Brown attempted to enroll Linda into the white school, but was denied. A lawsuit followed, with Brown among fourteen parents from Topeka acting as plaintiffs in the case. A federal court did not rule in favor of the plaintiffs, but their appeal was taken to the Supreme Court.
    Brown v. Board of Education was a compilation of cases throughout the nation that involved the issue of segregation in America's schools. Thurgood Marshall was among the attorneys that argued for integration in education. In 1953, Earl Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Warren supported desegregation in schools, whereas his predecessor, Fred Vinson, had not previously ruled in favor of it. A unanimous decision was reached, and Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned. Segregation was separate and not equal, therefore it was deemed unconstitutional. Desegregation in schools then resulted.

Contemporary Issues of Race
    Bob Herbert argues in "Separate and Unequal" that segregation still exists in present-day society, but not in the same way as it had during the Civil Rights era. Herbert calls to mind a rather different outlook on segregation: separate schools for the rich and poor. Although race can be linked to this form of segregation, its connection is primarily due to income. Privilege affects the academic environment, thus influencing the academic success of a student. This is quite similar to the issue that Allan G. Johnson raises in "Privilege, Power, and Difference," where he argues that privilege and class can either positively or negatively affect an individual. Herbert states that financial stability creates segregation in communities. The issue today is not based on race in schools, but rather on income's effects on black and Hispanic children in poor public schools.
    Tim Wise argues that evidence of racism and discrimination against blacks continues to remain. Wise states that whites do obtain certain privileges, whereas society may not see the potential of blacks due to particular styles. Society demands that blacks meet certain standards, even if they are equally or more competent than white peers. Wise also argues that while the nation is moving forward in terms of combating racism, it is false for society to behave as if it is truly in a post-racial state.

"Between Barack and a Hard Place": Ring of Fire Interview with Tim Wise
What does Wise have to do with Brown v. Board of Education?
    Wise speaks of the landmarks that have been established in history dealing with racism in the United States. While Wise relates that there have been a series of events that have helped to promote equality and desegregation (for example, Barack Obama being elected president), he believes that Brown v. Board of Education was the biggest event, as part of the Civil Rights Movement.    Similar to Brown v. Board of Education and the stress for equal opportunity in schools, there is a quote by Wise concerning equality in society: "If we're going to have a truly equal opportunity society, we have to have a truly equal opportunity society, and the evidence that we will have accomplished that is when we begin to see the research and the evidence on discrimination... begin to diminish" (Wise,

"Separate and Unequal" by Bob Herbert
How do the issues that Bob Herbert raises shape how you think about Brown v. Board of Education?
    The main concern that Bob Herbert raises in his article is that schools are segregated based on income within a particular community, and race is sometimes involved. After reading "Separate but Unequal," I did understand the financial issue that Herbert was addressing, and how it can deal with race. However, this form of segregation is different form the segregation that existed during the Civil Rights movement. The issues that Herbert raises makes me refer to the issues of equality from the era of Brown v. Board of Education, but the form of segregation (in this case: financial) is still different from racism.

As I examined each piece in regards to the case of Brown v. Board of Education and inequality in education, I took note that many of the readings that we have discussed in class could connect to the text.
For example:
  • Allan G. Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference" - The three titular elements of Johnson's text can be found in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Tim Wise Interview, and Bob Herbert's "Separate but Unequal."
  • Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace"- Racism and poverty are major issues in these readings.
  • "Safe Spaces" by August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro - Inequality and unjust treatment result from oppression, and there is a need for safe spaces and an integrated curriculum in schools.
  • Linda Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us" - Society creates these major issues, and action is needed and action is taken to combat oppression.
Additional References:
Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.

Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. Harper Perennial, 1995. Print.

August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.

Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.