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The Right to Learn
       A broadly accepted view is that all students have a right to learn. Those with learning disabilities should be able to attend regular classes to gain the social skills that come from being in classes with other students, benefitting from that experience while learning the concepts that they are being taught.
       In the broad sense, this is totally defensible. Attending school has expanded to mean much more than merely learning basic skills that were taught centuries ago, such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Over the years, the expectations of what will be gained in public schools have evolved to include a much broader realm.
       Perhaps too much is now required of teachers, as they are expected to overcome problems that go beyond their training or skill. Considering that students spend less than 12% of the total year inside classrooms, many problems that develop outside of school cannot be resolved within school. That is a broader issue.
       The subject that I wish to address is the specific right of all students to be in the classroom. While I feel that this is a worthy goal, I do find one limitation that has to be recognized. That is when the behavior or more appropriately, the misbehavior of any one student interferes with the rights of the other students to be able to learn.
       When a student is unable to refrain from disrupting the learning environment, that student has lost this right to be in the classroom. The disruption can be in any of several forms, which include an inability to refrain from following rules that are set to create a positive learning environment, verbal disruption, or physical disruptive, whether to another student or to the room itself. None of these actions are acceptable.
       If a student repeatedly disrupts the class, it is detrimental to the education of the rest of the students. Attempts can be made to address this disruption, but it is often due to conditions or events outside of the class. The teacher cannot stop teaching, investing all of his or her time and energy to address that individual student.
       It is critical to remember that the other students have the right to learn, and the primary responsibility of the teacher is to address their right. If necessary, the disruptive student needs to be separated from the class, hopefully for a limited time. Another person can try to resolve the issue so that that student can again return to the classroom to learn. However, the problems often are broader and deeper and cannot easily be resolved.
       Parents of such students are often very vocal about the rights of their children. It is appropriate to be concerned, but they also need to understand the broader picture and they need to get involved in finding the cause or causes for the problem and then finding a solution that can lead to the desired goal of overcoming that disruptive behavior. It is fundamental to recognize that merely adding to the noise does not resolve the issue.
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