All students deserve respect in classroom

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: TDSB proposal bad for teachers, students, Letters, Dec. 12
Dec. 13, 2017

As a former teacher, principal, instructor for the Teacher Concurrent Program and retired superintendent of special education, I applaud the TDSB task force’s initial recommendation of “exploring options to include students with special needs in the classroom.”

I was blessed during my professional educational tenure to witness support staff, teachers and administrators champion strategies to ensure that the school experience of a child with special needs was one of welcome, support and inclusivity, in order to have a pathway to reach their educational potential. Every experience of success, whether minimal or profound, was celebrated, ensuring that students did not feel like strangers in their own classroom with their peers.

Inclusivity for all diverse learners warrants a clear and concise commitment to support teachers, support staff and administrators, with the appropriate continuous professional learning and resources to ensure success.

I was extremely saddened to read that the task force had walked back the initial recommendation, due to concerns among parents, unions and advocates.

The letter by Paula Boutis, in which she says she was “reduced to tears” by published comments from union president Andy Lomnicki, is a call to all of us to be more open to opportunities for inclusivity.

It also reminds me of a very profound experience during my first year as a superintendent of special education when a parent expressed the following comment on our district’s Individual Education Plan survey: “I never want my child to be an inconvenience to anyone.”

It is similar statements from parents that serve as a call to action to ensure that no child feels excluded because of their learning need or exceptionality. The diversity of learners in today’s classroom is the norm and no longer the exception.

Let us embrace diversity in a manner that teaches us respect and consideration for all differences.

Dom DiBartolomeo, retired superintendent of special education, Toronto

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2017/12/13/your-letters-all-students-deserve-respect-in-classroom.html

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