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Are Education Issues Identity Issues?

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Are Education Issues Identity Issues?

Machelle R. Cardin

IDST-1035-1 Self in Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Walden University


Are Education Issues Identity Issues?

After reading the remarks of Melinda Gates and the article by Dashka Slater, I was immediately reminded of my family's experience in dealing with various educational issues such as having children with learning disabilities in the Detroit Public School (DPS) system and the drastic differences that we thankfully found once we moved from that inner city school system to a predominantly white suburban school system.

My oldest son Darius is hearing impaired and though I became his "other mother" when he was just five years old, I quickly noticed that there seemed to be a disconnection in how he processed information. At the time, he was still living with his mom and her new husband and though I expressed my concerns with my husband who in turn attempted to talk to Darius's mother, our concerns were met with a bit of hostility as his mother instantly took the offensive and blew off our concerns as she understandably felt threatened. Ultimately, Darius came to live with us permanently when he was nine years old and within a week of the new school year we found out that his mother and grandmother had been basically doing all of his homework for him after he had been held back in Kindergarten. My husband and I battled with Darius in as much as re-training him to do his own homework which was a foreign process for him and lead to long hours stretched out at the dining room table with him.

Initially, I remember feeling disappointed in and very irritated with Darius's mom as we sat for hours with him and realized how far behind he was, then I really became less upset with her and more upset with the teachers as I then began the harrowing journey of seeking evaluations, and special services for my son which quickly turned into my being literally directed into circles and given the run around by administrators, teachers, and the like.

It seemed as though everyone wanted to label him as mentally challenged when I knew better. Darius was slow alright, methodically so and was a child that literally processed the information just fine yet at his own pace which was often NOT the pace that the class of at least 40 other children (the norm then in most DPS schools) were being taught and he was literally being left on his own. This infuriated me as it shook his confidence and left him ever lagging behind the other children. Then I began to humble myself and realize how all of this must have affected his mother as teachers were egging her on to have him evaluated by their suggested physician and then medicated with either Adderall or Ritalin rather than really addressing his academic needs and then helping her with viable resources to provide for them.

Unlike some parents, I did not want Darius coddled or feted for being an underachiever (Tierney, 2004), as I did feel that his actual learning challenges were being swept under the rug as he was branded as being "special" along with other children who weren't achieving at the level of some of their counterparts who quite frankly seemed to garner more attention, consideration, and resources.

During that time, it was a combination of ethnicity, community, economics, and learning style as we were hard-working (barely) middle class parents actively involved



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