Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Disability Education: A Response.

On Friday I read a rather concerning article in The Age newspaper: “Concern at treatment of disabled in schools”. What follows is my letter to the paper in response to this article — please read the article itself first for context, otherwise the following post will not make much sense.

The letter itself was published in the paper yesterday. I intended today’s post to be a commentary on the Victorian election result, but it appears we haven’t got one yet; given that the paper has already published the letter, I figured I ought to bump up this post.
I for the most part fail to see how the treatment of these children is unreasonable given the circumstances. Only the 90-minute bus ride to school seems unreasonable, and that's more the fault of a broken public transport system and the lack of specialist schools themselves. More of these schools are desperately needed in order to relieve the pressure on mainstream schools (and untrained mainstream teachers) to accommodate those whose disability prevents them from benefiting from a mainstream education.
If a student has the mental capacity of a three-year-old, regardless of his chronological age, an appropriate environment should be provided. If this resembles a child-care environment then this is neither degrading nor unreasonable.
What was Matthew's aide supposed to do when he was hitting other children? Calmly explain to him that he was being a naughty boy and hope to persuade him to stop? That doesn't even work on neurotypical adults if they get worked up. If a child poses a danger to his peers, it is a violation of the other children's human rights not to restrain or seclude him.
A more detailed, more general explanation of my position on this issue will follow; the paper limits letters to 200 words.


  1. Ahem. We did, in fact, have an election result by the time this was posted, but not in time for me to write anything much about it.

  2. "human rights" was thrown around like confetti in that article. It was rather ridiculous.

    And have you noticed that "human rights" seem to differ in first-world countries compared to third world countries?