Anthony Webber                                                                                                                                       December 19th 2017ConklinHonors History Equity for Elementary school students with Down Syndrome Equality is treating everyone the same, while equity is giving everyone what they need in order to be successful. All Americans have the civil right to a fair education in the public schools. Parents and young students with Down Syndrome struggle to find the balance between equality and equity in the classrooms. Schools try to isolate and segregate students from the mainstream classroom. In elementary schools all students should be able to have a appreciable experience and to meet other people. Students with Down Syndrome should be able to move at the pace they are capable of going. Getting help with aides and going out of the room for extra help, while still being able to experience a mainstream classroom. All schools should find the right balance of equity for students with Down Syndrome. Public schools have to find the right balance because although teachers and parents may look at them as a burden, they are people too and they deserve the right to a fair education and to prosper just like the rest of the students. While incorporating students with Down Syndrome into their mainstream classrooms they should also be pulled out for extra help with their aides, which most do. The problem at hand is for these kids to not feel isolated, alone or not get the full elementary school experience and thechance to really meet new people. If they are only in the room for half the day they will not be able to do this. Down Syndrome is very rare in babies. The National Down Syndrome society stated “Down Syndrome is a disability that occurs in approximately 1 out of 691 babies; 6,000 babies each year are born with down syndrome” (National Down Syndrome Society). Down Syndrome is when the twenty first chromosome splits while the baby is still in the mother’s womb. It is a disability that causes slower development of the brain and motor skills like walking, eating and talking as a young child. The appearance of people with Down Syndrome is different as well. They have almond shaped eyes, a flatter nose, smaller ears, and since their muscles are not that strong their tongue might stick out. Mentally, kids with Down Syndrome are behind, which means other students excel at classwork and other topics faster than they do. As babies they are typically six months behind a child without disabilities and as they grow the number of months and years behind begins to increase. Young students with Down Syndrome need to interact with other students or they will not gain any social skills.  In a reading from the Center Of Development and Learning it stated “Children are born with innate social competencies just as they are born with other innate strengths and weaknesses in abilities such as attention, memory, language and motor skills” (National Down Syndrome Society). Since children with Down Syndrome lack these skills already, combined with isolation from a mainstream classroom will not help them gain any social skills, they need to be around other people and learn right from wrong with other students. This will help them interact with other classmates. Students with disabilities have been struggling throughout the years in America to gain the full right to go to a public school without any problems from the school or acceptance from the other parents of the community. Parents and caring teachers have been pushing for students with Down Syndrome civil right of a fair education. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that no student will be discriminated against because of their disability. This act promotes a fair learning environment for all students” (ADA National Network). This then led to the The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The U.S Department Of Education described the act as “a four-part piece of American legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education that is tailored to their individual needs” (U.S Department Of Education). This act ensured students with disabilities in public schools got the extra help outside of the classroom they needed like teachers aides and out of the room help, accommodations for tests and ensures the student will receive a well planned out an Individualized Education Plan. An IEP is specific for every student who needs one and caters to their weaknesses. In an article from Understood For Learning and Attention Issues, they described an IEP as “an important legal document. It spells out your child’s learning needs, the services the school will provide and how progress will be measured” (Individualized educational program- understood). The goal of these laws are to find a balance of equity and equality for these students with Down Syndrome. Although progress has been made for equity for students living with Down Syndrome some schools and even states do not want these types of students going to public schools. Taxpayers complain about how their hard earned money is going to these public schools and that money is going to teachers aides and other teachers needed to make sure the students living with Down Syndrome can get a fair education. Societal views on Down Syndrome can play a role in their school experience as well. Not everyone is as understanding and accepting of people with Down Syndrome. In a study called Understanding Attitudes Towards People With Down Syndrome, they interviewed students in elementary talking about students with Down Syndrome. The results stated  “30% agreed that students with Down syndrome should go to separate schools, 27% were not willing to work with a student with Down syndrome on a class project, and nearly 40% indicated they would not be willing to spend time with a student with Down syndrome outside of school” (PubMed.gov). Almost a third of elementary students from the survey did not even want students with Down Syndrome to go to their school. The success for a student with Down Syndrome starts with open mindedness. If the students do not have that then it will lead to bullying, which will lead to the students with Down Syndrome isolated and they will get the feeling they are alone. If people are picking on these students because they are different than they are not going to want to go to school anymore. In a interview with Joan Webber she talked about her son’s experience, living with Down Syndrome and going to a public school. She described her reasoning behind sending her son to a public school. She said “I put Christopher in the regular public schools and not a special educational classroom because a special ed. class will not prepare him for the real world. The real world is not filled with people with other disabilities. The world is filled with people who are kind and unkind, people who are tolerant of others with disabilities and some that are not. By putting Christopher in public schools and putting him in the mainstream classroom with others will prepare him for the real world” (Joan Webber). She goes on to talk about how not all teachers want a student with Down Syndrome in her class. Joan says “not all teachers are willing to go the extra mile with a student with a disability. Some teachers are great with it and thrive going the extra mile to make sure they succeed and some look at it as extra work” (Joan Webber). Joan was a teacher for twelve years and has seen it all, she now experiences it all with her son Christopher.There is still much that needs to be done in order for students living with Down Syndrome that attend public schools to receive full equity. Everyone student with Down Syndrome learns at a different pace and has different strengths and weaknesses, just like normal students do. The problem with the Down Syndrome students would to be finding the equal balance of allowing them to get help out of a classroom as well as them being able to experience the regular classroom and interact with peers. Separate curriculums need to be made in order for these students to excel in the classroom. If the students in grade 1 are playing a matching games with numbers and it goes up to twenty, the teacher could make the student with Down Syndromes game only go up to ten, making the game easier for them to learn and at the same time making it fun for the student. A mainstream elementary school classroom should prepare the kids for middle school, high school and the real world. Joan Webber agrees with this statement, she says ” it can be a struggle because the schools can favor educational standards over inclusion.  I believe that having my son in a regular educational classroom helps him excel educationally, emotionally and socially and that his non disabled peers benefit as well” (Joan Webber). She feels that school and home need to work together has a team and to make it work with open communication. Schools should look outside the box. If a student can not do something at the time they should not give up, they should see what they can do to get them to the place where they can succeed.  She believes he needs to deal with kids who are unkind and kind as well so he can learn” (Joan Webber). The idea of communication between the teachers and parents at home can help having these students excel. Teachers should be giving daily feedback on what the kids did in school, how the student behaved both the good and bad and what the student can work on to get better for tomorrow. Down Syndrome kids do not react well to negativity. A positive approach to learning will increase the chances the student will be attentive and excited to learn. If a student with Down Syndrome does something wrong in the classroom, the student should be told what they did wrong in a kindly manner and be rewarded when the student does something right or behaves throughout the day. With a well balanced curriculum with well thought out lesson plans, integration of the mainstream classroom with some alone time with aides, acceptance from the whole community which include teachers, students and parents, students with Down Syndrome and their parents can accomplish equity within the Elementary public school systems. Work citedBRODY, JANE E., et al. “Well.” The New York          Times, The New York Times, 11 Dec. 2017,          www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/down-syndrome/overview.html?8qa.Girod, Christina M. Down Syndrome. Lucent    Books, 2001.Lindsay. “Welcome to the Educators Page.” Tips for Teaching Students with Down Syndrome, www.dsahrc.org/professional-resources/educators/item/41-tips-for-teaching-students-with-down-syndrome.Pace, J E, et al. “Understanding Attitudes toward People with Down Syndrome.” American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20803641.”The Promise of Special Education Vouchers.” National Affairs, www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-promise-of-special-education-vouchers.Wallace, Maureen. “Why I’m Determined to See My Child With Down Syndrome Go to Public School.” Good Housekeeping, 14 Oct. 2016, www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a36653/down-syndrome-child-public-school/.

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