In elementary school, there were a handful of students that had Down syndrome. One girl that I remember was integrated into the classroom and she did what every other student did. There was a special needs teacher in that room to help her, but she learned everything the class did. She went to elective with them but she remained inside for recess with a couple of students from her classroom. It was amazing to see the students volunteer to stay in for recess just to play with her and keep her company while everyone else was outside. Kliewer points out that, "educating all children together reconfigures the representation of Down syndrome from burden towards citizenship" (95). Instead of being an outcast, she was integrated into the classroom and she was able to become friends with her classmates who helped make the classroom a safe space for her. Including special needs students into classrooms is a benefit because there is "no 'one size fits all model''' (Romo). Every student is different, and not every student learns the same. With that being said special needs students SHOULD be in all classrooms with their classmates because no one fits in the cookie cutter model.
In middle school there was only one class I had with special needs students and that was in gym class. From what I can remember, they were in only in my class in the beginning while we were doing warm ups. I don't think special needs students were in the classrooms though.
In high school special needs students were kept to one hallway where only a couple classrooms were, and they never had classes with other students. The only times I felt they were included is when our school had special olympics or basketball games that were played by special needs students. I feel that our high school was not inclusive at all. I found this article that helps teach students with Down syndrome and one thing listed that stood out to me was self-esteem. Students with Down syndrome usually have a lower self esteem and I think she should be in places where they can have people around them that will higher their self esteem. The teachers who worked with the special needs students did not look pleasant so I wonder if they were doing everything they needed to make those students feel wanted and included. This does not seem like a safe space that August talked about. The special needs students should have been integrated into gym classes in high school like they did in middle school.
My favorite quote from Citizenship in School is from Mia Peterson which I think ties in with what I was thinking that all students should be in the same classroom. She says, "I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special ed. almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, I wanted to cry" (Kliewer 71). Why can't special needs students take classes that I took it doesn't seem fair that they don't have the same opportunities that I had.
Question: From my experiences I never really had classes with special needs students. Are there schools that have special needs students in classrooms all the way through high school? What are these schools doing to integrate students with special needs that my schools need to start doing?