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Educational Injustices in Smallville, Ohio

With less than 5,000 residents living in Smallville, Ohio, it is an ideal small town where everyone knows each other, multiple generations of families live and grow and barely any crimes are committed. The main road leading into Smallville is like a never-ending run of corn fields, silos and dairy farms. It's an old town with old traditions. As brief as my residency was in Smallville, I witnessed the social injustices and educational issues that plague small town living.

During my first few weeks, I met a student named Joseph. He towered over me at 6-foot-4 and weighing 300 pounds. At first, I didn't know what to expect from him.I was surprised to learn he had failed the 9th grade twice and with this being his third try he was in the same grade as his younger brother, Jason. Joe and I became friends fast. I was treated differently because of my skin color but Joe did not judge me. Through students chit-chatter, I learned Joe was very popular and on the football team but had unexpectedly quit his first year. Joe struggled with his classes especially in English and Mathematics. One day in English, another kid was struggling to read a passage aloud, the classroom was filled with snickers and the teacher made the poor kid continue. After class, Joe comforted the kid and made him smile. That was his talent,, he had the ability to make people feel better.

Joe didn't live far from school so we would walk together. I spent most of my time with him and his family. They lived in a rented 3-bedroom home. Joe lived in the basement so his younger brothers each had their own room. A few years early their home had flooded. The basement was musky and half of it was unused because of the water damage. He slept on an old sofa and kept most of...

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The mentality of the school was to help the popular kids succeed. Joe had fallen through the cracks for 2 years and kept trying to reach out for help but was ignored. As I examine his circumstances I wonder how things could have been different. If he had stayed on the football team, would he had received the help he needed or would the teachers just of given his good grades to keep playing? I believe the former is more likely. The teacher-students relationships were inappropriate and negative for the students. The students were not measured on their learning merit but on their popularity. The sad reality is the failure of the education system that forced a child with a learning disability to repeat the same grade almost 3 times. The teachers have the responsibility to develop their students into success individuals even if the students are disabled.

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