The link below is a newspaper report that a teenager with cerebral palsy is suing the Queensland State Government for discrimination after allegedly being told to avoid certain subjects at a Brisbane government high school due to his disability.
The newspaper reports that the student’s mother was allegedly told that her son’s English was only at a Year 3 level and “to go home and bring him up to a grade 4 level”. However, her son had just received a B for English in Year 10.
When the student moved to a private school, he performed better in English and German in his final year than previously. He wants to be a lawyer.
It seems the government education system judged this young man’s intellectual capacity based on his physical disability and cortical vision impairment. His disabilities make it hard for him to read, write or type because of being effectively blind during exams and being unable to control his arms.
So why couldn’t he use alternative methods to demonstrate his knowledge? Maybe provide oral assessment tasks or use voice recognition software to convert speech to text for assignments and assessments.
There is a huge variety of learning technology to let us step outside the tired old square of writing our opinions/reports on bits of paper. The State education exam markers are surely capable of assessing the academic or other value of a variety of work, even if the process did not include the physical act of writing words on paper?
As we have said before and will no doubt repeat many more times, the education systems need to stop incorrectly judging students’ learning abilities based on their medical diagnoses. Instead they should ask one simple question:
“What educational supports or tools does this student need to be able to learn?”.
And then provide them. It would enable many more students with disabilities to leave school with the skills to gain meaningful employment or undertake further study. And we do need more skilled workers, don’t we?
I guess this young man will excel in law. And we need him.