“Should I Take Juanita Pope?” by Isabelle Dworkin

The present case analysis concerns the case described by Isabelle Dworkin in her work “Should I Take Juanita Pope?”. This is a description of the writer’s persona; experience with the girl with learning disabilities who was neglected both by parents and by teachers, thus experiencing more and more learning problems – the author raises the questions of responsibility for the education of such children as well as the best ways to treat them in a way that would suit their specific demands.

Juanita Pope, though is not treated as a child ‘at at risk’ would be able to get into this category due to the belated mental development and challenges she faced in learning. The girl did not keep to the learning tempo of the class, needing more time to grasp the material, “could not comprehend directions and concepts” (Dworkin, 2006). Despite good capabilities in “rote numerical reasoning and rote auditory memory”, she experienced great hardships with “visual-motor and space orientation” (Dworkin, 2006).

Because of her shyness, Juanita could not receive any help from teachers who preferred to simply neglect her, thus being unsuccessful in her studies. Knowing her educational history, the school board paid specific attention to assessing her abilities and as a result, the conclusion made about Juanita

Interacting in socially appropriate ways with others but having trouble sharing and contributing to a small peer group, having difficulty with problem-solving and higher-level thinking, needing extra time to formulate responses, and having trouble with newly introduced concepts (Dworkin, 2006).

Juanita was decided to belong to the group of children with learning disabilities because of her belated learning development – she was considered a person with a “dysfunctional family history” as her parents did not pay much attention to her education. She went to kindergarten only at nearly 7 years old, so she was unable to catch up with peers in the learning process. Neglect to the problem caused more psychological problems, raising a challenge for Juanita and her unwillingness to study. If the presupposition to challenges in mental development were naturally or genetically formed then she would belong to the group of mentally retarded people – those who experience hardships with basic cognitive and mental processes and development.

Judging from the situation discussed, the school did not correspond to the demands stipulated by the IDEA – there was no specialized attention to Juanita that would ensure her adequate development reasonable for the level of her development. The IDEA was initiated to provide early intervention, detection of specific needs of the child with disabilities, and satisfying them. However, in the case of Juanita too much time was spent on debates and transferring, and teachers who were responsible for the transfer simply gave Juanita up and wanted release from the burden.

The problem became really grave at the period of time described by Isabelle Dworkin; consequently, the question arises on who was responsible for Juanita’s education at the current period of time and at the period of her early development. In the latter case, the answer is certainly her parents and relatives – the closest people who constitute her surroundings and who would have been able to give her help. But Juanita’s family was far from socially stable, so Juanita experienced much shock and negative impact of the life circumstances that aggravated the problem. It has been long ago proving that children with disabilities have to receive specialized education at the earliest possible age – only this way it would be possible to ensure their adequate accommodation to the real-world conditions. Thus, it was the family responsibility that was not fulfilled.

The situation with teachers and Isabelle is also worth attention – teachers obviously behaved in the wrong way neglecting the child with disabilities and refusing to give her a chance. Isabelle was a key person in the case as she was the one who knew the right approach to the child and won her trust, who really wanted to help her, and who did not consider her desperate. However, it is possible to justify the teachers’ behavior as they were not specifically trained to deal with such children; more than that, attributing as much attention to Juanita as it was necessary to do would reduce the activity of the class, making the sacrifice of too many children’s progress for the sake of Juanita’s accommodation.

It is clear that children with disabilities have to be treated in a specialized way and should receive separate attention and help. It is obvious that at the present moment the educational system is far from being able to respond to all groups’ needs, but there is always hope that in some time the situation will change and all children will be treated the way they need.


Dworkin, I. (2006). Should I Take Juanita Pope? Hallahan & Kauffman. Exceptional Learners. Public Broadcasting Service. In D. Hallahan & J. Kauffman (Eds.), Exceptional Learners. Pearson.

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