"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Perhaps It's Time ...

A column in one of our local (read very local) newspapers last week by Kings West MLA Leo Glavine most definitely grabbed my attention. Unfortunately I can't yet find it online. So I will just have to liberally quote and paraphrase.

Entitled, as are all his columns in this paper, "From Province House to Home", it starts with the observation that "This week, 1300,000 Nova Scotian children return to school", continues by noting that despite the US educational document, "No Child Left Behind", students do, indeed, fall through the cracks and advises that Mr. Glavine has been hearing from "a growing number of educators and parents who think the way inclusion is practiced could be an obstacle for a wide range of students, especially those with cognitive impairments or learning disabilities, from achieving success."

Now if that's not enough to get your attention, I don't know what is.

Mr. Glavine considers the NS Dept of Education's definition of "inclusion"
... an attitude and a value system that promotes the basic right of all students to receive appropriate, quality educational programming and services in the company of their peers
as a good statement, reflecting the attitude of a society that values all individuals, and acknowledges each student in the province deserves a quality education.

And athough Mr. Glavine states that this should be practiced in all classrooms in Nova Scotia, it appears that he believes this is not happening.

Without individual instruction, these students would spend most of their time sitting in a class, failing to understand what is being taught and unable to complete daily tasks and assignments. In the five years as an education critic for my party, I have heard disheartening stories of children with developmental delays or a variety of other cognitive impairments who, in early year, were a year behind in normal progress and, by junior high, were performing two years below grade level. The common denominator: they were not behaviour problems they received no EA or individual support in a constant manner.
Some interesting statements follow:
The courts have made several rulings on this issue: inclusion must be practiced from the perspective of the student. [ED. I beleive he might be referring to the Eaton case with this comment which we discussed here.] To state that inclusion can only be age-related (as in Nova Scotia) is short-sighted. Inclusion should be a secondary goal to learning. To apply inclusion in a manner that limits or prevents attaining educational goals is not what the legislature intended, and would suggest we are putting institutional needs ahead of student needs.
Giving credit where credit is due, there be a fair bit of meat in those comments.

Mr. Glavine ends the column by calling upon the new government and the new Minister of Education, Marilyn More, to work to provide the highest level of special needs education.

It's easy, I suppose, to wax poetic on what should be done when you are not, in fact, a member of the governing party. Just ask the NDP ... I've always thought they've been pretty good at that over the years.

Now don't get me wrong, I most definitely am a fan of the party. At least provincially. But my point is that now that we do have a NDP government provincially, perhaps it's time.

Perhaps it's time to expect more than a little more from our educational system.

Perhaps it's time to demand more than a little more.

Perhaps, for once, we will actually be listened to.


2 comments:

United on Disability Issues said...

Hi Michelle,

Referring to the article on inclusive education.

My comment: After reading the response from the Minister of Community Services to the Chronicle Herald report on abuse at Riverview I wouldn't count on the NDP. Not only did I vote for them I had a 4' x 8' poster of Darrell Dexter on my front lawn. It seems once they get in power all politicians are the same.

Disillusioned in Halifax

MMC said...

Well, you might well be right. Although I certainly hope not. Still we have seen some good initiatives in the past few months, namely the Caregiver
Allowance and Healthlink 811.

As far as the situation at Riverview goes, I would say that it is up to the disability community to EXPECT and DEMAND more. Which is a subject I really should post about. Thanks for the comment.