This past week there has been quite the discussion generated by my post about my brother, Kent, and the honour roll policy at his high school. Blog posts, Twitter conversations, Facebook chats, Ning Discussions, emails, phone calls, and staff meetings have all been generated from the post. Needless to say, I’m quite shocked. My initial intention for that post was to simply generate some discussion among my classmates regarding inclusive policies and to find out what we can do as new teachers about them, if we feel they should be revised or changed. Little did I know that post would receive over 400 views in 4 days. Nor could I foresee that the post would make it to Kent’s school in less than 24 hours and that I would be receiving a phone call regarding it just over a day later.
Obviously, the school was upset about the post. They should have been, I did not take the time to mention all of the great things they have done for Kent over the years. I made them out to be the bad guy, when in all actuality, they do a tremendous job regarding inclusive education, especially with Kent. If anyone knows that, it is me and my family. Kent was allowed to start kindergarten two years early to get used to communicating with others and the school environment as early as possible. He has always had incredible teachers and assistants (most of which I also had) who have went the extra mile for him, no matter how difficult that may have been at times. These teachers also have made an effort to be educated regarding the Kent’s educational needs and have coordinated with the Saskatchewan Pediatric Auditory Rehab Center (SPARC) to ensure that Kent’s needs were being met and that his equipment was functioning properly. He has never been turned away from anything extracurricular and always has been included wherever he has desired to be. He was able to have a contributing part of school plays in his younger years and has always been able to participate in schools sports. In his sports, coaches have made sure that officials were aware of his disability and how it might affect the game. The list goes on and on. What this school has done for Kent over the years will no doubt give him the tools and skills that will allow him to successful in his years beyond high school. Our family was lucky to live in a community with a school so willing to put an effort forth like they have.
I would have loved to have brought the issue up to the school at some point in a much different fashion. I wish I would have had the opportunity to address the issue personally, or perhaps with my family. I do not want to hide behind my blog. My intentions were to generate some discussion with my classmates and to find out a effective way to address the issue.
Because of how the post brought up the issue, there has also been alot of debate regarding the ethics of this post. I have discussed it with my classmates and it has been discussed by many others on Dean’s blog. From what I have gathered, there is no right answer for this. It can be argued either way whether or not this post was ethical. Ethical or not, I know I will be much more careful next time. I stepped on some toes that I had not intended to. I made a school that is very good at inclusive education, look like one of the horror stories we sometimes hear about in my education classes. In the future, I will be addressing the issues with the right people before mentioning it on my blog. I want to be the one who informs them about the issue. As the principal told me, they simply weren’t aware of the issue and the impacts it had on students. A simple email, phone call, or visit may have ultimately had the same final result.
Even though I did not approach the issue the best way possible, it did spark a change. In my phone call a week ago, I was told that the school had held a staff meeting regarding the topic and spent some serious time re-evaluating how they approach their honour roll system. Throughout the week, the principal also contacted his superiors and other schools to see how others are handling similar situations. Yesterday, I received another phone call about the situation. The school has changed the policy to include students who are in regular, adapted and alternative instruction. Personally, I think this says alot about the school Kent attends and how they are very willing and open to make necessary accommodations.
I hope more schools will follow the example set by his school and continue moving in the right direction for inclusive education. I also hope more people will not hesitate to address issues they feel need to be addressed, simply bringing them up can go a long way. If they do, I hope they can do it in a better way than I did.