Gordon Porter believes that inclusive education is simple. Unfortunately most teachers, the NBTA organisation itself, aides and education administrators have been bullied and intimidated into following his simple philosophy unquestioningly even though they know it flies in the face of the truth. They know that many children are present in NB schools with complex learning, behavior, cognitive and sensory challenges which render education under any label anything but simple but they dare not speak out. More and more children are, and with the current Bill 61, An Act to Amend the Education Act, more and more in future will be, excluded from NB schools as placement and learning options are reduced in favor of Mr Porter's regular classes and mindlessly simple philosophy.
The picture by Diane Crocker above and accompanying quotes are from the Newfoundland paper the Western Star article, "Inclusion in the classroom ‘simple,’ says educator", with highlighting added by me for emphasis:
"CORNER BROOK — Gordon Porter believes inclusion is the most natural thing in the world. The educator and director of Inclusive Education Initiatives presented a session on inclusive education at the Greenwood Inn and Suites on Thursday. Porter, who is also the editor of the Inclusive Education Canada website inclusive education.ca, spoke to parents, educators and agency professionals who deal with children with special needs at the pre-conference for the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living Conference taking place in the city today and Saturday. The session was sponsored by the Community Inclusion Initiative.
Porter’s session revolved around the theme of parents and teachers working together to make inclusion work.“It means kids go to their neighbourhood schools with kids their own age in regular classes,” said Porter.“If you’re seven years, old you go to the school just down the street. You go in a class with other seven-year-olds, and you’re supported if you have extra needs. “It’s so simple, it’s that simple,” said Porter."
Gordon Porter's vanity has led to exclusive education practices in New Brunswick schools. I know this to be true, teachers, aides and administrators in NB schools and retired teachers know this to be true. The only ones who do not know this to be true are Gordon Porter who has aggressively pushed his own simplistic, non evidence based, non inclusive education on NB students and schools over the past 30+ years and his NBACL followers. Mr Porter's simple (his own words) philosophy has resulted, and continues to result, in more restricted range of options for placement of children with severe learning, behavior and cognitive challenges within New Brunswick schools. By restricting the range of placement options for NB students Mr Porter has forced numbers of students including students with severe autism, cognitive and behavior challenges out of their local schools to home based learning.
In some cases students have been locked in rooms by themselves with no supervision, some have been charged with assault, some have banned from school premises. When the Porter, everybody in the mainstream classroom, false inclusion philosophy fails the child is blamed and he or she is banned from the so called inclusive schools of NB.
Mr Porter can receive dozens of ribbons to pin on his chest from countries with struggling education systems but the reality in NB is that education is rapidly becoming more exclusive, less inclusive, as options that might accommodate persons with severe autistic, cognitive, sensory and obsessive behaviors are simply eliminated from schools.
My interest in the false inclusion in NB schools arises from my son's severe challenges. He has in fact been accommodated ... by individualized instruction outside the regular classroom with ample socialization at the local swimming pool and gym and daily connection with other children in the Leo Hayes High School Resource Centre, an excellent, practical, evidence based and truly inclusive resource for children with extra needs. The LHHS Resource Centre though is at serious risk as Gordon Porter continues to push entrenchment and expansion of his exclusionary policies in NB schools.
My son's alternative arrangements came about in part because of our advocacy on his behalf. I happen to be a lawyer and have some professional skills that are of assistance in communicating with education officials and advocating for our son. Some other parents are not as fortunate and some have more than one child with extra needs.
With respect to autism spectrum disorders the University of North Carolina TEACCH program which has substantial influence in academic and professional autism circles has articulated the following position statement (underling added by me for emphasis) on inclusion of children with autism one which calls for a range of placement options. It is an evidence based position which recognizes the heterogeneity of autism disorders and the range of accommodations required:
- The TEACCH program recognizes the important value of preparing all persons with autism for successful functioning within society. Each person with autism should be taught with the goal of successful functioning with as few restrictions as is possible.
- Decisions about including children with autism into fully integrated settings must be made consistent with the principle of the "least restrictive environment" as a guiding principle. No person with autism should be unnecessarily or inappropriately denied access to meaningful educational activities. However, it should be noted that the concept of least restrictive environment requires that appropriate learning take place. Placement decisions also require that students be capable of meaningful learning and functioning within the setting selected
- Activities which are inclusive for children with autism should be offered based on an individual assessment of the child's skills and abilities to function and participate in the setting. Inclusion activities are appropriate only when preceded by adequate assessment and pre-placement preparations including appropriate training. Inclusion activities typically need to be supported by professionals trained in autism who can provide assistance and objective evaluation of the appropriateness of the activity.
- Inclusion should never replace a full continuum of service delivery, with different students with autism falling across the full spectrum. Full inclusion should be offered to all persons with autism who are capable of success in fully integrated settings. Partial inclusion is expected to be appropriate for other clients with autism. And special classes and schools should be retained as an option for those students with autism for whom these settings are the most meaningful and appropriate.
Mr Porter's obsession with everybody in the classroom philosophy will hurt many more children as it becomes even more entrenched by the current Bill 61, An Act to Amend the Education Act, which will, once passed into law, give greater legal status to Mr Porter's false notion of inclusion. The principle that the evidence based best interests of the child should be a dominant consideration in setting school policy will now be challenged by Mr Porter's inclusion illusion. More and more NB students will be forced from NB schools into home based learning.