Education Accessibility and Other Structural Inequalities

Within this community, I have observed a couple of structural inequalities. One of them being the educational opportunities provided to students with invisible and visible disabilities in Maryland and also throughout the U.S. 

Our orientation for the families and their students is called the ice cream social, where students are able to get popsicles and meet their teacher before the classes begin the following week. This is also a perfect time for parents to ask questions to the teacher or the directors, about any problems or important information they should know. Our ice cream social for this year took place on a Wednesday and I was a part of the directing staff. My position, Program Assistant, does not require me to be in charge of the program or make big decisions. I am here to be the telephone between parents and Horizons at Norwood. At the ice cream social, it was my job to answer any questions the parents had and communicate them to my site director’s. I also am in charge of translating any concerns from the parents from English to Spanish or vice versa. 

The day of the ice cream social, I met with many parents, both spanish and english speakers, as it is my job to communicate and create relationships with them. There was one woman whose conversation hit closest to home for me. She was explaining to me about how her son was struggling with recently diagnosed schizophrenia. Her son, before his diagnosis, was a bright straight A student at his school. Afterwards, he struggled and had to be taken out of school. She looked for ways for him to continue his education, wondering if the school could provide him with an online option, but no success as they could only accommodate him by putting him in the special education program. By being in this program, a couple of the subjects he took would need to be changed due to the program structure, but his needs would still not be met. According to his mom, he just needs someone who can understand his situation and continue teaching him the same subjects or advance his learning. 

I relate to this mother’s situation because, even though I myself am not a parent, I do have a brother who has struggled with learning accommodations and parents who have been frustrated with the school’s accommodations. Luckily, my parents were able to fight for some accommodations in my brother’s previous school, but it was not enough. Our last option would have been to send him to a special, more expensive school adapted to children who struggle learning in school; however, we never got around to sending him there due to its high tuition. Yes, they did offer a few scholarships; however, it was not enough to cover the full cost of tuition

And unfortunately, not everyone has the money to send their child to a school that can cater to their academic needs, especially families in low-income households. Within these communities, there is a need for therapists fit to help both parents and kids and teachers adept to face the unique circumstances that befall them; and, by having the support of these two professions there can be an improvement to the future of lower-income families. Without the proper support, many families within this community can get stuck in a continuous cycle of poverty,

Capstone project:

Originally, my capstone project revolved on immigrants and their stories, since the community I had imagined involved more face to face with the parents. The reality is I spend more time with the kids and the teachers than I do with the parents. Once I realized this, my view on my project began to change. Now my capstone project is focused more on education, the teachers, and the background of the students. Although my question has not been fully developed, I believe it is a step in the right direction.

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