Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Empowering Education" by Ira Shor


1) "Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream."

This first hyperlink is to a documentary directed by Acadamy Award-winning film maker Alex Gibney. In the documentary, Gibney examines the vast differences that can be seen on two different Park Avenues located in New York. One Park Ave. is home to more billionaires than anywhere else on the planet. Just miles away, another Park Ave. in the Bronx is home to extreme levels of poverty, much like some of the other cases we have examined over the course of this semester. The film focuses much of its attention on one staggering fact: the 400 richest Americans control more wealth than the 150 million Americans in the bottom fifty percent of the economic ladder. As Shor points out in his piece, our educational system reinforces many of the economic disparities seen in everyday life. This documentary reemphasizes just how significant and scary those disparities truly are. The two Park Avenues, both located within the same city, seem as if they are two entirely separate countries. Shor explains that this increasingly significant difference is largely due to the educational system in the US and how stereotypes are often perpetuated within their hallways. Those with money are able to send their children to schools that employ the very best programs and educators. While those in the lower classes must make due with whatever is allotted to them.

2) "Why You Should Opt Out Your Children from State Testing" by Ira Shor

In this other piece by Ira Shor, he explains that  the current form of state testing does nothing to benefit students enrolled in public schools. Shor states that public schools are in a state of destruction due to the looting of school funds by charter schools and testing companies. Shor asserts that the constant, mundane style of state testing that currently exists "makes the best years of our kids' lives into a digital hell." According to Shor, these tests are useless and expensive and something that the students in private schools do not have to go through. The tests also fail to examine a multitude of factors that can alter a child's test scores, including family income. Shor explains how SAT and ACT scores, as well as high school and college graduation rates, are directly linked to family income.  Shor accurately describes the system of state testing that currently exists within public schools as a "commercial machine invading and destroying public schools."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer


This week's reading was eye-opening to say the least. In many ways, it challenged a great deal of the notions I had learned regarding people with intellectual disabilities. I've always been under the assumption that the type of segregated schooling that disabled children receive was necessary and beneficial. A friend of mine has an older brother with down syndrome (I'll call him John) and I can remember vividly how people used to treat him totally different from everybody else. While everybody loved him and treated him with the utmost kindness and enthusiasm, it is this type of extreme, transparent distinction between those with and without intellectual disabilities My older brother actually went to school with John when they were very young. My brother and John became good friends and, at the time, my brother was completely unaware of anything "different" about John. I always found that interesting. When children are at the earliest stages of their education, those with and without learning disabilities are placed in the same classrooms and it often goes unnoticed. But as we get older, the differences are made known to us for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the way in which students with disabilities are completely separated from the rest of the student body population, almost as if they are not actual students. I think this type of segregation leads to a great deal of discomfort surrounding intellectual disabilities. I remember being unsure of how to treat John aside from attempting to match his enthusiasm and to try to cover up the fact that I was out of my comfort zone. Looking back at how everybody used to treat John, I realize that I was not the only person who was unsure of how to treat him. I think this sense of uncertainty arises from the fact that children with intellectual disabilities are handled so much differently in school than the rest of the students. I think it's vitally important that we begin to understand just how much people with intellectual disabilities can contribute as working folk who think, feel, and respond in ways that are the same as people without any disability.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Pecha Kucha Update

At this point in the Pecha Kucha process, I feel as though Ana and I have a solid foundation to work off of. We have decided to use Delpit as the main piece to focus the rest of our presentation on. We also have examples from Johnson and Collier to use for supporting arguments. Ana made connections to our class discussions with a couple of stories from her SL project. One of the biggest concerns I think there will be is to split our presentation time up evenly. We're going to have to be very efficient during our presentation. We each must say what we want to say in roughly 3 minutes and 20 seconds. That doesn't seem like a whole lot of time, but then again, it may seem like forever when I'm actually presenting. I think it's just going to boil down to preparation and most definitely no procrastination (easier said than done, though). With the amount of work Ana and I got done this week, I am feeling confident.
"The 7 P's"