Monday, November 19, 2012

Re: Supreme Court ruling in favour of dyslexic student  Jeff Moore,  regarding access to services...

"Adequate special education is not a dispensable luxury," Justice Rosalie Abella wrote in the unanimous decision. "For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia."

I found myself saying "REALLY?"  Did it really take 15 years for this decision to come down? What was there to think about... perhaps there was a prolonged debate on the merits of learning to read.... "is it all it's cracked up to be, and will he really miss not being literate anyway?" Or, perhaps there was discussion around whose responsibility it was to teach children enrolled in schools...hmmm-

I have mixed feelings about this... on one hand I say  good- we needed the courts to back the families- but on the other hand... this is not really indicative of the real issue. Schools don't make a habit of turning kids away with a shrug of their shoulders.  Most schools would not  say they don't have the resources to work with a learner...and I don't know a single teacher who would not try to help a kid like Jeff-  but the truth is they may not have the type of resource needed, nor the know-how,  and certainly not the time needed to produce results. In most cases the parents are not aware of this, and don't know enough about treatment to be able to judge the efficacy of what is being offered. Sadly, in many cases I don't think the teachers are either.

What this court case did was prove to us that there are methods that work- and there are teachers (granted, not many) who know how to use them... and so, this should be the standard in every classroom. I hope this goes a long way to suppressing the tendency to blame the victim. Instead of saying "I'm sorry Jeff, you have a very severe learning disability, and you are not teachable." It's more accurate to say, "I'm sorry Jeff, we don't have the skills and time to teach you. We need to find someone else to help you." The roadblock is in finding people with the experience and training.

What we need are faculties of education that support regular classroom teachers in developing these skills. If proven research-based methods are engaged from Kindergarten to grade 3 for every student, we would see a huge reduction in the number of kids labeled as dyslexic. We would go from 20% to a manageable 5 %- and then special ed teachers would be able to do what was needed on a smaller and more intensive scale.

It makes so much sense....

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