Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From Dependence to Independence Proposal

This appears to be the proposal for Mom's 1994 paper From Dependence to Independence. I like the third paragraph, where Mom talks about the help her siblings gave her in school, and how she likely couldn't have done it without them.

The photo is of Mom, third from the left, at her eighth grade graduation at the crippled children's school in Sioux Falls. She only attended there for one year. The photo is also from a great photo album I found on my recent trip home, an album Dad had.

I have chosen to write my research paper on educating the disabled then and now. Rather than using techniques in teaching, I would like to focus on the physical aspect, for instance with kids perfectly able to learn, but unable to get into the building. This can be due to physical access, steps, wider doors, place to sit, furniture unsafe, etc., or due to textbooks that a blind person can't read or the extra help needed for a deaf or hard of hearing student. I believe I can go back to the early 1900s when no one bothered to educate these kids. Then it was a curse to have one and they were hidden from the public either in their home, or in an institution.

If a family could afford it, a private tutor could be hired and progress seen, as in the well-known case of Helen Keller. So often this kind of thing was never attempted. If you had any of these handicapped listed above, you automatically couldn't see, hear, or talk either, much less have a brain and be able to think. All of these assumptions are untrue, of course, as have been proven time and time again with the proper education.

I was born in the early 1940s and people didn't know what to do then. I came at the bottom of a large family. There weren't any organizations for us to turn to. My parents never considered anything but sending me to school. With my brothers' and sisters' help, I went to school. I'm not sure how much, if anything, went into the decision to send me to school. I'm sure that I was not expected to accomplish a lot. The physical barriers were countless. They began at the front door and countless steps. Everywhere there were steps. There were two flights just to use the bathrooms, one flight to get to the classrooms. The walking to and from the playground took many minutes. Without my brothers and sisters, I would not have made it. Along this line, I would like to interview some of my sisters about those early decisions. I would like to know if the school had any objections to my attending school. I don't think any of the teachers are around anymore. I do have contact with some of my classmates and wonder if it was discussed in any of their families. I never got the feeling that I was not wanted in school.

I had a brother who was born deaf and attended a school for the deaf in a nearby town. There wasn't a handicapped school until I was in late grade school. I did attend this school following a surgery for one year. I wasn't walking yet, so I couldn't handle the stairs. With the schools now, I probably could have handled it.

I personally was extremely disappointed with the academics of this school for that year. I can't say that I learned a lot of academics. I did learn a lot about people and was more appreciative of my home.

After that year, I returned again to my local school for high school. Here, of course, I was challenged along with the rest of my classmates. This was a small school, so perhaps it was easier.

After graduation, however, I think my parents let down. They were not real big on higher education and the benefits of it. I do feel that all of the kids should have been forced to go to college or trade school. I did return after about 10 years. At this point, my choices were a little different. That is a whole other story.

The emphasis has shifted greatly between when I started school, where not much was expected. Indeed, the thoughts generally were that we couldn't learn much. Then the start of special schools, where educators were saying it is best to keep the handicapped kids separate so they won't slow everyone down. The pendulum has now turned. With the modern use of "mainstreaming" these kids are now back in the classroom whenever possible. They not only can keep up academically, but many times they are a very good influence on the rest of the kids. With many of the physical barriers now being corrected, many of these kids get along quite well on their own.

On the devil's advocate paper, I could present perhaps the expense of re-doing all these buildings with ramps, putting in elevators, etc. Also the extra effort and expense of attendants and getting kids to and from school. Required also are readers for blind students and interpreters for the deaf, and attendants for the more severely handicapped. All of this is now paid for by your school district.

There are those who say spending all this money on these students is jeopardizing the monies for their own students. They could also say that these students are distracting to the other students and prohibiting them from learning.

There are those who believe that these students should be separated to promote learning for both groups. The handicapped group can't possibly measure up so to speak with the physically able student.

I intend to prove, however, that everything I just stated on this advocate paper is just the reverse, that  this student is not a detriment, but an asset and a good future investment. To make every individual a tax payer, rather than a tax drain. Education is certainly the key to all of this.

Vocational training is used in most communities to train the handicapped to a specific job or task. Higher education is still not done very often. It still remains very difficult for anyone to get a job in an executive position, even with the proper education, or in some cases more than the proper education. This will take educating the public.

Connie, Jan. 22, 1994

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