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Monday, June 08, 2009

Alberta adopts “inclusive education” mission. Will education choice be a casualty?

The Western Standard reported on April 28th a campaign by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) for the inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities into regular classrooms. The “No Excuses” radio and television advertising campaign challenged the view that children with disabilities disrupt the pace of learning and demand disproportionate attention from teachers.

The CACL can likely lay claim to a policy victory in Alberta as a result of this campaign and 50-years of advocacy. In a proposed new framework for inclusive education called “Setting the Direction” released today, Education Minister David Hancock committed his government to create “one inclusive education system that recognizes all children come to school with potential but also with challenges.”

“The framework aims to respond to the clear advice of stakeholders and partners,” said Steering Committee chair, Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Naresh Bhardwaj.  “That advice was to recognize and respond to disability and diversity within our education system by ensuring that educators, schools, and school authorities have the support they need to develop and deliver an inclusive education system.”

Will this new framework for “one inclusive education system” come at the cost of choice in education in the province?

At the Calgary Education Fair on May 30th, the full scope of educational options was on display. Homeschooling, private schooling, personalized distance learning, advanced music programs and faith-based instruction are available to Alberta parents and their children. All these choices are alternatives to traditional public schools, and all work against an agenda for inclusive education.

The agenda for inclusive education is about achieving political aims – perhaps even worthy political aims – and less about achieving education aims that meet the needs of a highly diverse community of parents and children.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on June 8, 2009 | Permalink


Timmy! Timmy! Timmy?

Posted by: Timmy | 2009-06-09 12:01:12 AM

It's not new, it's called mainstreaming and it drags the whole class down. One of the reasons private schools and even French Immersion programs yield better results than "normal" public schooling is the extent to which there is no mainstreaming. Yes, Timmy! Timmy! Timmy....

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-06-09 10:19:39 AM

John, I agree based on the results of the same in BC. It harms the rest of the children and it harms the handicapped child along with making even the best teacher's task impossible.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-06-09 10:51:56 AM

I too don't agree with a single inclusive education system.

Posted by: Joe | 2009-06-10 12:18:35 AM

A single education system is by definition exclusive. By the natural excess of information to be learned, a power filtering process is required to unify it.

Posted by: Tim | 2009-06-11 5:29:45 PM

A tool to level the playing field so to speak. Hold back bright kids and pass slower kids through at the same rate. That should yield the mediocre intelligence levels they'll need to produce passive uninformed taxpayers.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-06-11 9:24:09 PM

Seriously you people are that hicks, it will hold everyone back, really ? think about what your saying. inclusive education promotes diversity and caring, it turns people with disabilities into functioning members of society who can contribute to every aspect of society. The last 50 years of education in Alberta has been a joke, and inclusive education does not hold anyone back, at all.

Posted by: Mark | 2009-06-22 11:41:33 AM

When my twins were in grade 2, there was a handicapped kid in their class. I'm not sure, but I think he was autistic. That year, the entire class had to work around this kid. He would lie on the floor, and yell. He'd lick the carpet. He'd smash the other kid's projects, and interrupt every lesson.

I wasn't aware of this until I went to a school concert. My boys had practised long and hard for their performance, and during the song, this kid laid on the stage and yelled uncontrollably. After that, they decided it wasn't really worth it to work hard at any projects, because that kid was only going to ruin it anyway.

If that's not holding kids back, please tell me what it IS doing? The handicapped kid is still going to be incapable of competing in the workplace, and now, his classmates have been taught that they must lower their standards to help him fit in.

Schools need to bring back the remedial class, and provide training that these kids really need. You can't expect a kid with learning disabilities to keep up in a chemistry class, and we shouldn't interfere with the rest of the class to accomodate him. Schools could spend those resources on training that is more in line with their abilities.

When I was in the system, I remember a few kids that were misdiagnosed, and put in with the handicapped kids. That was unfortunate, and it was the fault of incompetent academic testing. The system will never be perfect, but to bring the whole thing down to the level of the least gifted is just wrong.

Posted by: dp | 2009-06-22 12:14:40 PM

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