By Louise Kinross
In the last couple of days I've seen parents argue for two radically different visions of how to educate children with disabilities.
In this piece in The New York Times' Motherlode blog the mother of a 10-year-old with an intellectual disability who can't speak says that children like her daughter need special, separate schools. "Alongside her peers with disabilities, she's thriving in a rich, complete school community," writes Margaret Storey, who says she's surprised to describe herself as a "segregationist."
Storey writes about how mainstream classes can become "exclusive and stigmatizing" for children with profound disabilities because they don't have the resources to hire highly-trained staff to provide one-on-one support. "Abstractions about inclusion may fail to comprehend my daughter's needs," she writes.
We still need separate schools, Storey says, and they need to be well-funded.
Yesterday in a new Ted Talk called Disabling Segregation, filmmaker Dan Habib, father to a Grade 8 son with cerebral palsy, says that all children with disabilities should be taught in general education classrooms.
Habib notes that in the U.S., 56 per cent of students with intellectual or developmental disabilities spend their entire day in a self-contained class or separate school.
This flies in the face of 35 years of research, he says, that show that disabled kids who are included in general education classes have better outcomes socially, academically and behaviourally and do better after they graduate.
Equally important, Habib says, is that studies show improved grades and social benefits for typical kids who learn alongside peers with disabilities.
What do you think?
Read the Motherlode piece and listen to Dan Habib's talk and let us know.