Friday, June 19, 2015

The State of Inclusion in Alberta Schools

This was written by Avis Glaze as the Forward in The State of Inclusion in Alberta Schools by the Alberta Teachers' Association.

by Avis Glaze

So often, as teachers, we reiterate the statement that “all children can learn and achieve given time and proper supports.” I have no doubt that we believe this statement. But I would like to encourage deep reflection on what this statement means, and, more importantly, what we will do differently to enable students to be more successful. 

Permit me to congratulate the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) for its attention to inclusive education here. The State of Inclusion in Alberta Schools is an outstanding study that will serve as a model internationally. I commend the Association for carrying on its rich tradition of excellence and leadership in education through its creation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta Schools. The Blue Ribbon Panel’s findings, outlined in this report, are very important and the focus on inclusion is timely. 

All across the globe, teachers, politicians, community members and parents are striving to ensure that education lives up to its promise of creating a more just and harmonious society. They recognize the complexities associated with inclusion, but want more inclusive practices to prevent their children and grandchildren from falling through the cracks. In the same vein, Albertans want the best for the province’s children and youth, but will not be able to confidently say that the education system is successful until the bar is raised and achievement gaps are closed. A commitment to inclusive practices will greatly enhance the quality of education in the province. 

Education is the ultimate tool of empowerment. It requires both will and skill to help students fulfill their potential. Alberta teachers fully realize this. They know that they must continue in their relentless quest to achieve excellence through equity. They want the best for their students. But there is also a broader goal. We live in one of the greatest countries in the world—one that promotes democracy, fairness and justice. We cannot afford to forget that democracy and education are inextricably intertwined: democracy is strongest where education is strongest, and publicly-funded education is the hallmark of democracy. 

To my mind, this study’s focus on inclusion and its findings represent a clarion call to action. Reaching the goals and successfully implementing the strategies outlined here require a shared purpose and mission. Alberta teachers—who work with students every day and are committed to student success—have the will, skills and attitude to make it happen. 

The children deserve no less.

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