Unsurprisingly, Special Education is not high on the priority list for National if they are to be re elected after the 2017 General Election.
The total investment into education is $379 million across a variety of different policies. So where does Special Education fit into it all? The $379 plan doesn’t speak a whole lot to Special Education. It certainly doesn’t tackle the issue of disabled learners being unfairly discriminated against.
Instead, National have promised that every child will get the opportunity to learn a second language.
Wagner Defends PM: “There Are Thousands Of Disabled People”
On Sunday, Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner said that Prime Minister Bill English was a great supporter of the disability community.
“Today, he made Enabling Good Lives the centrepiece of the National Party’s campaign launch. He said that there are thousands of disabled people in New Zealand and that National respects their capabilities.”
Wagner says that the second language option used in schools could be New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). However, Wagner didn’t provide any concrete promises.
Special Education Dismissed By National At Campaign Launch
There are far more pressing issues at hand in regards to Special Education in New Zealand. A simple promise to ‘deliver’ on Enabling Good Lives and provide the opportunity for learners to learn NZSL is not enough.
Disabled children need a fairer access to education. This starts with better education for teachers and support staff, but it also needs to be tailored to the needs of each individual. For example, the needs for a student with a physical disability are often entirely different to those with an intellectual disability.
Does National’s plan enforce schools to enrol students with additional requirements? No. Does it tackle the issue of principles bullying parents into getting their disabled child out of school? No.
The time old argument that the education system has made is that teachers are not equipped to ‘deal with’ children with special education needs. Well, get them equipped, and fast. National’s plan doesn’t put any pressure on schools to change their current attitudes toward taking on learners with disabilities.
What’s clear is that there is no tolerance of increased needs and additional support requirements by the education system. The bare minimum amount of funding has to stretch across the board, and often Special Education sits right at the bottom of it all.
National has promised little, to no assurance that this won’t continue if they get re elected come September 23rd.