Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 20 March 2009


This is the first week since the beginning of the school term that I haven't worked out west. It's good to have uninterrupted quiet time.

What I've noticed about aging is that I still do all the things I've always done – it just takes longer to physically recover. This seems to hold true for the long-distance driving the work requires. These days I drive say 600kms in a day, and spend the next day or two recovering.

Combining the driving with the full-on work in the schools is challenging.

There's always a lot to do in term one. Every time a student with physical impairments enrolls at a bush school, there are heaps of issues to confront.

The problem of basic physical access is always present in bush schools. They're invariably (in Queensland) built on stumps, and the toilets are often inaccessible. Developing ways of ensuring access (as is the legal requirement) requires a great deal of lateral thinking in many cases.

I drive around Toowoomba when I'm home and look at the multi-million dollar infrastructure which comprises many of the wealthy private schools (Grammar, and my old alma mater – Downlands are two prime examples) and wonder about the ethics of governments that continue to throw money their way, whilst at the same time being stingy with dollars to provide basic physical access in state schools in the bush.

This is thrown into stark relief when you understand that these same wealthy schools refuse to enroll students with autism or intellectual impairments because they "don't cater for them".

No such choice operates in the bush.

Another interesting phenomenon involves the increasing incidence of students with severe and multiple impairments. It probably relates to the improvements in post natal care for these kids who now survive, whereas ten or fifteen years ago they didn't.

I continue to be inspired by the parents and teachers of these kids who go to extraordinary lengths to develop high quality programs around them. Supporting them keeps me motivated and enjoying the work.

It will be interesting to see whether I still have a contract if the LNP get in, as it appears they will. We will see their true colours in relation to support for bush kids.

The fascinating issue will be whether the LNP's traditional (and generally mythical) alignment to bush voters will be outweighed by their commitment to reduce government spending.

We'll see.

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