2009 Declaration – A Reminder
In 2009 CACL launched the No-excuses website and put forward a declaration on inclusive education.
The declaration begins as follows:
• fosters a culture of respect and belonging in our schools and communities for all students, including students with intellectual disabilities;
• provides the opportunity to learn about and accept social and cultural diversity;
• provides quality education for every student to enhance individual development and personal growth;
• results in students with intellectual and other disabilities having a much greater chance of improved health status, being involved in their communities, completing high school and going onto post-secondary education, getting a job and having a decent income.
It goes on to define "inclusive education" and notes some thoughts on how we are doing and what is needed to do better.
If you missed this at the time – check out the website and sign on to the declaration. Your support matters.
NO MORE EXCUSES - Zuhy Sayeed
“Inclusion – our way of life”
For the past 27 years, “inclusion” has been the ”way of life” for our family. We have worked with early childhood intervention services right through to graduate school and work environments to ensure that our sons have been welcomed, meaningfully included and that the communities they have lived in have seen and experienced the huge positive impact of having them as part and parcel of active life.
My joy knew no bounds last week when I went with my daughter in law to pick our grand daughter up from Kindergarten during her first week of school. As my grand daughter exited the room and said goodbye to her teacher, another young child, her classmate, came out behind her - complete with his walker, his school bag and with a huge smile on his face!
Our 27 years of hard work to ensure that every child is included and that every school does indeed include; was suddenly worth every minute and each heartache and barrier we had ever faced!!
For our little one to be going to school where a child with a disability was her classmate – no fuss, no bother – just as a matter of course was great. Growing up with the full fabric of human diversity just felt so right and so powerful!
Indeed, today, no family should have to face the obstacles and challenges to have their children included in school. Those should be long ago battles that no longer result in exclusion and heart ache. Surely in the 21st Century each child with an intellectual disability should simply be a part of the diversity that is Canada in their families, their schools and their communities.
Today, teachers must be trained to teach to all children and accept the diversity of our society. Schools must be adequately funded to provide an equal education and needed supports for every child. Children must be nurtured and educated together in their community school and learn to be responsible, participating citizens.
We need to ensure that this happens. With no excuses. No exceptions. We can do it if we all get involved and have our voices heard!
Zuhy Sayeed is a parent and advocate from Lloydminster, Alberta. She is the Past-President of the Canadian Association for Community Living. She is also a Past- President of the Alberta Association for Community Living. She and her husband Raffath have four sons – and now several grandchildren. They have worked hard to develop inclusion in the schools in their city and beyond.
Click HERE to download the PDF
NO MORE EXCUSES - Jacqueline A. Specht
“We don’t have any segregated classes except for the developmental ones”
“We have 3 segregated classrooms. I could see getting rid of two of them, but I have no idea how we could get rid of the third”.
Real quotes from real teachers. Why do we not see ALL students when we talk about inclusion? Teachers have real issues facing them in their classrooms and we need to help. We cannot continue to believe that inclusion is simply putting children in general education classrooms and leaving it to the classroom teacher to figure out what to do. Inclusion was never meant to operate in that way. The research tells us that people need to be supported. It has been telling us this for years – let’s act. Only when teachers feel supported to implement best practices such as differentiated instruction within their classrooms will they be open to accepting all children.
There are many teachers in many schools, in many school boards who have exemplary practices for including ALL children. We know it can be done. We need to get the message out there to those who doubt and provide them with the support they need.
We cannot continue to say that – “There are no segregated classes except for .....” There are segregated classes or there are not. We cannot have some segregation and say that we are inclusive. These are mutually exclusive terms. No more excuses.
Our faculties of education need to instruct our student teachers in the ways of inclusion. We need to teach them to be part of a team of teachers for ALL students once they get into classrooms. Our boards of education need to support continued learning of their teachers by hosting professional development around inclusion. They must support teachers in the general education classrooms. Inclusion coaches would be a great way to do that. We know that learning does not happen in a one day workshop; it needs to be nurtured.
Provide teachers with the opportunity to learn and practice in their own classrooms with others who have been successful inclusion teachers. Provide the opportunities for discussion and new learning amongst the teachers and coaches. Our ministries of education need to provide frameworks that are simple to understand and do not change from year to year.
We could all do a better job of working towards inclusion. We are doing good things, but we need to do better. No more excuses.
Jacqueline A. Specht, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Director, Centre for Inclusive Education, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, 1137 Western Road, London, ON N6G 1G7 Canada
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.edu.uwo.ca/inclusive_education
Click HERE to download the PDF