The Marginalisation of Students with Learning Disabilities as a Function of School Philosophy and Practice

Journal of Moral Education 30 (3):273-286 (2001)
Advocacy on behalf of students with learning disabilities in schools that do and do not acknowledge learning disabilities reveals a dynamic that can be active in both settings. This dynamic is one of student marginalisation in favour of institutional empowerment. Affording voice to students and responding to students' voice is requisite of education that is moral. Schools that practise student marginalisation abrogate moral responsibility incumbent upon them. Illustrations of marginalisation using material derived from advocacy activity on behalf of two learning-disabled students voicing opposing needs and attending schools with diametrically different philosophies toward learning disability will be presented. Descriptive material provided will also be used to illustrate a structure of institutional responsiveness revealed by advocacy activities. The structure of institutional responsiveness consists of four levels of responsiveness to children with learning disabilities. This structure of responsiveness can be used to evaluate and describe the responsiveness of institutions to special needs students and guide change processes undertaken to achieve greater institutional responsiveness
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