Nov 01/10 - Pt 2: Special Needs Inclusion

Quebec's Association of Teachers says the province has gone too far in integrating special needs students into regular class-rooms. And that has renewed a difficult debate among teachers and parents.


Special Needs Inclusion - Jennifer Bento

We started this segment with a clop from Anne Kresta. She lives in Winnipeg. And she is talking about her youngest son Michael. She has an older son named Peter. Both of them have been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, Tourettes, and Attention Deficit Disorder. And each has struggled in school.

Across the country, there is a renewed debate about how to educate students with special needs, and to what extent - and how - they should be integrated into regular classrooms. For her part, Anne Kresta says she often felt like teachers and classrooms just weren't equipped to help her sons. But she also says there were times when things worked more smoothly.

Across Canada, most provinces and school boards take an approach called inclusive education. The idea is that as much as possible, children with physical, intellectual or emotional challenges should be kept in mainstream classrooms and given the support they need to learn, side-by-side with children who don't have those special needs.

But in Quebec, the Provincial Association of Teachers whose members teach English Language schools says that approach has gone too far and that it's time to pull back. Last week, the Quebec Government gathered teachers, health-care workers and members of the special needs community to talk about how to deal with the issue.

But in the meantime, Jennifer Bento says teaching the range of students in her class is a big challenge. She's a grade five and six teacher in the English public school system in Montreal.

Special Needs Inclusion - Panel

Ray McIsaac has devoted a large part of his life to advocating for special needs students. He is the Acting President of The Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living and the father of four adult children, two of whom have special needs. He was in Stephenville, Newfoundland. And Yude Henteleff is a lawyer and one of the founders of the Canadian Learning Disabilities Association. We reached him in Ottawa.

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