Pauline Hanson says “we need to get rid of” autistic children from mainstream classrooms.
Her argument is that teachers have to spend too much time with them at the expense of other students’ education.
Pauline claims parents and teachers have raised the issue with her about children with disabilities or autism in mainstream classrooms.
“These kids have a right to an education by all means, but if there’s a number of them these children should actually go into a special classroom, looked after and given that special attention,” she said in the Senate this morning.
“Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education, but are held back by those.
“It’s no good saying we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and we don’t want to upset them and make them feel hurt.
“We have to be realistic at times and consider the impact that is having on other children in the classroom.
“We need to get rid of those people because you want everyone to feel good about themselves.”
Families share their outrage
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten read a letter out to fellow Members of Parliament from a mother disgusted by Senator Hanson’s comments.
“When you are a parent with a child with a disability you have your heart broken on a regular basis,” he read.
“Not because of their disability but because of the way they are treated by other people.
“Today isn’t any different.
“To hear one of our parliamentarians argue that kids with a disability don’t belong in mainstream classes doesn’t shock me but it does break my heart all over again.”
Parents groups have slammed Senator Hanson’s comments, reports 9 news.
“There are not strong enough words to fully articulate how dangerous and damaging Senator Hanson’s comments are,” acting executive director of The Parenthood Nicole Lessio said.
“While we’d prefer not to give more oxygen to Senator Hanson’s offensive comments, we cannot let bullies use their platform to insult and denigrate children.
“School should be a safe place for all kids. As parents, we teach our children to accept and support peers with all levels of ability.
“Senator Hanson has sunk so low she’s now bullying children with autism.
“Every day in classrooms across the country teachers are supporting students with all abilities – whether it’s kids with disabilities, learning difficulties or those having trouble at home.
“This juggle is what teachers do so well, which is why they are such incredible professionals.
“Segregating one group of students is not only unhelpful, it’s disgusting.
“Children’s lives and learning journeys are enhanced by embracing and accepting difference. Perhaps Senator Hanson missed those life lessons. She should hang her head in shame.”
“All Means All is extremely disturbed by and strongly condemns the comments made by Federal Senator Pauline Hanson today in relation to the education of students with disability.”
“Students with disability, including autistic students, have the right to attend a regular classroom in a mainstream school. This right is recognised in Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (as clarified by General Comment No. 4 on the Right to Inclusive Education) to which Australia is a Party, and protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 established under it). This right also aligns with the priorities of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which states “The shared vision is for an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens”.
In fact, Australia contrary to its obligations under Article 24 of the Convention, has steadily increased the proportion of students with disability in segregated “special” education over the last 12 years. This regression was queried earlier this month by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Research evidence clearly suggests that students with disability benefit academically and socially from education in regular mainstream classrooms and the education of their non-disabled peers is not academically affected and is socially and emotionally enhanced.
Senator Hanson should read Article 24 of the Convention on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and General Comment No. 4 before she advocates for a return to the segregated models of 100 years ago.
Italy which has an education system recently ranked by UNICEF well above Australia, abolished segregated special education in the 1970s and has educated all students with disability in regular classrooms for the last 40 years.
No one denies that regular schools need more resources to educate the diverse body of learners representing Australian school children or that teachers, education assistants and particularly school leaders need to be upskilled and supported. However, the denial of education rights to students with disability can never be the appropriate response.
We call on Senator Hanson and other public figures commenting education of students with disability in media in a manner that informed and respectful of the fundamental rights of students with disability.”
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