In this paper, the article Not in My School Yard by Shepherd (2009) of Guardian newspaper will be reviewed. The article focuses on the plight of the parents of children suffering from Down’s syndrome who seek admission in mainstream schools. …
Several external resources have been consulted in writing this paper so that a holistic view of the topic the article under discussion deals with can be presented. The Main Issues Julia Shepherd’s report throws light on some neglected educational problems in our society. The primary focus of the report is on the parents of children with Down’s syndrome. Down’s syndrome is a genetic disease which causes mental retardation and other psychological co-morbidities. In childhood, a patient of Down’s syndrome has problems in learning because they have serious cognitive and behavioural difficulties, which hampers normal growth of mental capabilities and by the time puberty sets in, the mental condition of the patient is considerably different from that of his/her peers in the same age group (Alton, 1998). Conventionally, it is thought that these children need special education which can address their specific needs (Alkin, Freeman, and Kasari, 1999). Nevertheless in her report, Shepherd (2009) reports that most of the parents of children with Down’s syndrome wish to send their children to the local mainstream schools so that they can read and write with normal children in a normal classroom environment. The parents want that their children are acquainted with the community and the local people; and a mainstream school is the best place to achieve this. Nevertheless, most of the schools are reluctant to accept the children with Down’s syndrome. Particularly in the senior schools, children with Down’s syndrome are becoming increasingly unwelcome and their parents are being compelled to shift their children to some special school. The gravest aspect of this problem is that the local authorities are not cooperating with the parents in their confrontation with the local schools. Instead, in a situation of persuasion on the part of the helpless parents, a local authority may even go to the extent of cutting down the special educational facilities and assistive therapies provided by the Government to redress the learning problems of a child with Down’s syndrome (Shepherd, 2009). The Voices The report under discussion has been written in third person and the reporter has avoided making personal remarks. The report can be identified as an example of investigative journalism where Shepherd (2009) has conducted an interview based survey to dig out the reality of UK school education system. In this way, the report becomes the voice of the parents of children with Down’s syndrome. The intended audience are general public and government officials, who must contemplate on the problems faced by the unfortunate parents seriously, and then attempt to provide humanistic solutions. Information Available in the Article The article is highly informative since it provides direct feedback and interview discussions with responsible NGO officials and parents of the children with Down’s syndrome. Shepherd (2009) mentions that a study for the Down Syndrome Educational Trust conducted back in 2002 show that if a child with Down’s syndrome receives education in a mainstream school instead of a special school, he/she can build up about 5 to 6 six years faster spoken language capability and literacy. Furthermore, Bob Black (who is the information director at Down Syndrome Education International) admits to Shepherd (2009) during an interview that under pressure from the mainstream school authorities, parents of the children with Down’s syndrome are being compelled to transfer their children to some special school and the battle is being gradually lost. Moreover, when the parents are ...
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