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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
9am-5pm Monday - Thursday
T: 9841 444

Friday, 23 July 2010

Disabled students need to be part of mainstream

Letters to the editor, Sydney Morning Herald today (23rd July) in response to Ross Jeffreys's letter yesterday:

As a teacher and a parent of a child with Down syndrome I have a vested interest in the issue of inclusion. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to manage resources more efficiently, and funding needs to be reconsidered. My daughter receives what I would call inadequate funding and I am thankful that she is at a school that is creative in how it supports her.

I was disturbed by the letter from Ross Jeffery (July 22). As an ''educator'' and an executive within the system, his opinions sound very similar to other ignorant views I have heard.

I should not have to justify my daughter's right to an education. She is not a second-class student. Research indicates that it is in her best interests to be in a mainstream class and at the moment I can see that she loves it there, is well adjusted and well liked by staff and peers and, most importantly, is learning not just social skills within her community but academic ones.

I also have a ''regular'' son at school. I do not need to go out of my way to argue for a fair go for him on a regular basis. No school gave me funny glances when I went to enrol him.

To suggest that mainstream students suffer because of the inclusion of disabled students is an ill-informed generalisation. Children with special needs are as diverse as the rest of the population and should not be vilified by educators.

The offensive singling out of students with learning difficulties, autism or Aspergers on the My School website is a ludicrous suggestion.

The inference seemed to me to be that these particular special needs children tended to be more trouble, a ridiculous statement. Perhaps we should identify what the religious beliefs or racial mix are of each school population while we are at it? Total guff.

As an assistant principal, Mr Jeffery would be better placed developing a passion for teaching - in loving to see the ''light bulb'' go on - for all the children in his school not just the ''privileged'' majority.
Shelley Phillips Five Dock

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