The widening gap between the rich and the poor attest to the saying that “the rich is getting richer and the poor is getting poorer” (Houck, 2006). The book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America which was written by Barbara Ehrenreich showed a vivid picture of how those occupying blue collar jobs fail to make ends meet with a meager income. The irony here lies in the fact that these people occupy jobs whose services or products they can’t even buy. This phenomenon is described by the great philosopher Karl Marx as the Theory of Alienation (Pappenheim, 1959).
A worker can no longer claim that the product he is making is truly his, hence, he is alienated from his products and can’t even afford to buy it himself. Alienation is said to be a product of capitalism. Barbara Ehrenreich related in her book that even hotel maids can’t afford a decent place to stay in when in fact they toil more than most middle class men do. Those who work at Wal-mart can’t even buy half of what is being sold in the store that they are working for (Ehrenreich, 2006). Though they work even harder than those who are buying their products they earn only six to seven dollars an hour.
Poverty therefore is not caused by laziness because those who are poor work tremendously harder as compared to rich individuals who only sit behind the desk all day and wait for the paycheck (Anderson, . et. al. 2006). These people exhaust every possible way to make ends meet and that includes finding a second job just to pay the rent and cutting down on basic necessities. Even so, what they earn is not enough to cover for all the household expenses. If you take into consideration everyone in a community, only a small fraction of its population enjoys living a well-off life.
A majority suffers from lack of resources or doesn’t have enough food to fill their stomachs. Imbalance in the distribution of resources and wealth affects majority of the citizens. The sad reality lies on whom are the ones getting much and who are the ones not getting anything at all. Majority of the people suffer from low wages while people like Ms. Ehrenreich would not even give a wink at dispensing 40 dollars for a pair of khaki pants (Ehrenreich, 2006). Forty dollars for a pair of pants for some would be too much when 15 dollars would do.
The ones in the higher echelons of the society are the ones who are not doing actual hard labor. They capitalize from the hard work of the poor working class, literally giving their sweat, sweating their lungs out and blood just to make money. They work hard and gets paid less, barely enough to make a living out of it. Here is where we come to ask, why do they settle for menial jobs? Is there a job shortage in our country? Apparently, there is none. Even foreigners find fulfilling jobs in our country so why cant our own citizens find one? That is because of skills and qualification.
Most jobs that pay above minimum wage are those that require a college degree or educational attainment. Not everyone has the opportunity to study in college; therefore not everyone is qualified to get a high paying job. Even if they get to study college, more often than not they are not able to maximize the learning in the school because of factors such as lack of sleep and decent meal. More so for children with disabilities and are from a poor family. There are other factors that affect a child’s learning and comprehension in class and more often than not, these factors are often overlooked especially in a normal class setting.
These children are categorized as lazy, mentally slow or hopeless. They suffer from discrimination and “labeling” which according to psychology, will damage and weaken the child’s perception and self-esteem. Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book, was able to somewhat apply sociological imagination which was coined by C. Wright Mills in 1959 in her analysis on the state of the people in the labor force. She was able to show why these people are often found by their supervisors slack and not so enthusiastic in their jobs.
This is due to lack of sleep and fatigue caused by having two jobs, not having proper and complete meal, and lacking other necessities that makes a worker productive. She went beyond the conventional notion that they are inherently lazy and is not competitive. The sociological imagination links poverty to larger picture, one that occurs in society as a whole and not just on the individual (Mills, 2000). If sociological imagination is to be applied in a classroom setting, a child with disabilities coming from a poor family not being able to keep up with the lessons will not be viewed as sheer laziness by the child or the parents.
Rather, a broader picture will enable the teachers to analyze the complexities of poverty that ultimately caused the child to exhibit slow performance in class or even cause the child’s disability. For one, an impoverished family can’t afford regular check ups and medicines upon conception of the child. This alone increases the risks of having complications during pregnancy. We can’t blame the parents if they have no money in preparation for the pregnancy because this family is caught up in the complex web of poverty.
The parents might be working hard to give the child a better future but factors such as inflation, epidemic, wide scale cost-cutting of companies, national depression and other factors may have hindered them from preparing for the birth of the child. The rate of poverty for families with children below 18 years of age is 27% (Jackson, 2000). Poverty for a child with disabilities can cause him his future. For one, parents fail to give these children proper medicines and other necessities for them to function normally.
Consequently, these parents can’t afford to enroll their child in a school for children with disabilities. As a result, they either become the laughing stock of the entire classroom or they stop going to school. Either way, if they don’t get proper education they too will be caught up in the vicious cycle of poverty (Zou, 2005). Inclusive Classrooms The philosophy of inclusion operates on the premise that a child with disabilities will learn more about society and will have better chances at his future when he is not segregated from society itself.
Simply put, inclusion setting allows for children with disabilities to participate in a normal class and encourage him to participate like a normal student instead of discriminating him on the grounds of his disabilities (Salend, 2007). The classroom then becomes a pool of diverse students wherein children with disabilities learn to socialize with normal children and normal children will then learn to respect and not discriminate children with disabilities or those who have cultural background (Salend, 2007).
This setting is said to be beneficial to both the normal and special children since they will be able to socialize and prepare for their encounter with diverse individuals in the future. Inclusive setting entails collaboration with the parents and is a tedious process. It is a participatory process wherein the children and the parents are part of the planning and not just mere receivers. They asses the needs of the students and adjust to it so that they will be able to address their individual needs.
However such task requires much effort from the teachers, parents and the students (Salend, 2007). This is where most of the dilemma comes from. If the effort of the teachers in the inclusive setting is the same as those in the special learning institution, they ought to be paid much higher than normal teachers. A participatory classroom setting really needs much effort and patience for it to work, however if the goal of the educator/teacher is to teach efficiently then effort should not be an issue. As an educator it is their duty and pride to see their students learn.
The success of inclusive learning is a case-to-case basis since the needs of the students are different. There are students who require stringent measures in a classroom setting because of health risks of aggressive behaviors. While inclusive setting is good for the social and emotional skills of a child, the safety and health of the students should be taken into consideration. Conclusion Inclusive classrooms give a ray of hope for those who are financially challenged. It increases the chances of a physically challenged child to have a better shot at his future.
Much like most of the children from poor families, the chances of these children in getting low-wage or below minimum wage jobs will also decrease. Once they acquire the skills needed for high paying jobs then the cycle of poverty in their own family will be broken. However such is just a small part of the poverty puzzle. The U. S. as an industrialized country, has one of the widest inequality gaps in the world in terms of income (Schifferes, 2003). Despite its ability to generate income, it remains a fact that even powerful corporations and few individuals still hold more than 60 percent of the economy.
Capitalism as Marx would put it will always divide and widen the gap between those who do labor and those who sit and watch them work, thus, the rich and the poor. Poverty will never be resolved overnight or it may not be the concern of the government or the society, but it is the duty of the government or the state to ensure equal distribution of wealth. They should protect the basic rights and interest of its people because the state is created by the people and for the people.
The government must provide better programs with regards to education, in which it will cater the need of poor families. Education must be considered as a right not a privilege. It is indeed true that the chances of getting a good quality of education for the poor is thin, however by maximizing the resources such as the ordinary classroom setting and transforming it to inclusive classroom setting, even poverty can be alleviated. It is through collaborative and participatory action that a society can achieve progress.
Courtney from Study Moose
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