Re: DSM: Re: Is democracy for everyone?

rhonda goebel (
Wed, 04 Aug 1999 13:33:39 +0000

Love your story. SVS states that they cannot serve everybody, however
sad that fact may be.

Alan Klein wrote:
> Rhonda,
> I am curious as to how you have gotten the idea that democratic schools are
> unwelcoming to those with special needs.
> You remind me of a true story: In the mid 1970's, in Ann Arbor, I taught in
> a school-within-a-school program that was not completely democratic, but was
> the closest thing I have yet seen in a public school to it. We had about 60
> kids from second through sixth grades all working and learning together. In
> the middle of the year a mother (a lawyer) of a kid (Danny) who had CP and
> was in a "special school" began "agitating" (as the school bureaucracy saw
> it) for him to be mainstreamed. After a long spat with the school
> psychiatrist and psychologist, our principal (who understood and supported
> our program) suggested that Danny be placed in our group, which he was.
> There were two vignettes that I remember most about his time with us, and
> that you message recalled for me. In the first, on the first day he arrived
> (he was larger than most of the kids, a little older than most, and used
> crutches to get around) several kids were making animated 8mm movies (yes,
> not videos!) They had marked off their work area by moving tables around in
> a "corral" so that their camera and sets would not get disturbed. When Danny
> saw this, they invited him to join them and he did by simply ditching his
> crutches and crawling under the tables. So much for worries about how he
> would be "integrated".
> Scene II: A few days later, the occupational and physical therapists came by
> to assess our readiness to accommodate Danny's special needs. Our rooms were
> by no means orderly, which dismayed the therapists to no end. Finally, in
> desperation, they asked, "What do you do with him at recess?" I was, for a
> moment, unable to respond, since we didn't "do" anything with him...he
> simply had recess. As luck would have it, it was recess time at that moment
> and we were near a window overlooking the playground. (The kids were playing
> a game called "Barrel Tag" in which they ran among several concrete drain
> pipes that had been placed in an open cornered square. The game required one
> to climb up on a barrel in order to be "safe". The kids had, of their own
> initiative, modified the game so that Danny only had to be touching a
> barrel.) I pointed out the window, explained the situation, and said,
> "That's what we do with Danny at recess!"
> Alan Klein
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: rhonda goebel <>
> >seem to be excluded. If Sudbury serves as a model of democracy in
> >action, does that mean that there is no place for some people with
> >special needs in a democratic state?

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