The institution of education is the foundational cornerstone of our society. Education is a conscious effort to improve oneself both intellectually, physically, and morally, and the school remains the primary shaping force for the learners to develop their full potential (Biesta, 2015). Educational ethics constitute a framework of standards for judging conduct and ensuring the protection of freedom to learn (Litwack, 2003). The two primary principles of educational ethics for teachers include commitment to the students and commitment to the profession (Litwack, 2003). Each student has the potential of becoming a valuable, useful, and respected member of society. The purpose of the code of ethics is to help every student to achieve that goal (Litwack, 2003).
In some educational institutions, students with disabilities are being neglected. Some teachers fail to provide the appropriate accommodations and modifications to assist these students (Bhatnagar & Das, 2014). While the reasons for such negligence differ, these actions compromise fairness and undermine the integrity of the profession.
The essential aspects of modern-day education are based on the concepts of equity and equality. Education evolved from an elitist and segregated institution reserved only for the rich, able, and powerful, towards an inclusive and integrated model. Inclusion has been recognized as one of the most important objectives of contemporary education (Felder, 2018). The addition of disabled children into public schools is a worldwide phenomenon, as the rights and contributions of disabled individuals to society become more recognized (Lamture & Gathoo, 2017). This trend became prominent with the adoption of a landmark federal legislation called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975, which entitled individuals with various physical and mental disabilities to the use of public classrooms (Yell, Rogers, & Lodge-Rogers, 1998). Ever since, schools and teachers were required to provide special accommodations for students with various disabilities in order to help them fulfill their educational needs (Yell et al., 1998).
Because of the IDEA act, there are great numbers of students with disabilities receiving their education in general education classrooms. Although they receive special services from school authorities and education facilities, they spend the majority of their time alongside non-impaired individuals. According to Salend and Duhaney (1999) and Ruijs and Peetsma (2009), the introduction of least restrictive environment (LRE) greatly improved the autonomy of students and helped them increase their academic performance, participate in classroom and community activities, while also reducing the stigmatizing effects of special education (Salend & Duhaney, 1999; Ruijs & Peetsma, 2009,).
Despite these accommodations, the individuals report a lower level of academic success as a result of a multitude of stressors associated with the school environment (Hong, 2015). Some of these stressors include faculty perception, fit of advisors, college stressors, and the quality of support services. Lack of knowledge by educators and support personnel remain some of the most common issues encountered by students with disabilities (Hong, 2015).
The ethical issue of teachers being unable or unwilling to accommodate students with disabilities was brought to the forefront of public discussions. According to Dowrick, Anderson, Heyer, and Acosta (2005), special education students do not receive the appropriate instruction and curriculum that accommodates their educational needs. Despite robust federal legislation for educating students with special needs, persistent concerns remain that teachers too often neglect to provide students with disabilities the level of instruction necessary (Haegele & Sutherland, 2015). It must be noted that many parents feel that special education in public schools is a waste, as the individual teachers and institutions as a whole did not pay attention to their requests and complaints.
However, the public opinion is that schools are not doing enough to accommodate disabled learners and help them reach academic success (Haegele & Sutherland, 2015). In the majority of these cases, the main portion of the blame lies on teachers in the classrooms. The power and importance of the generalist teacher in today’s diverse educational environment cannot be underestimated. According to Forlin and Chambers (2017), “Inclusive education requires generalist teachers to be able to cater for the needs of the most diverse student populations academically, socially and culturally” (p. 563). Therefore, when teachers do not engage in their respective duties, for whatever reasons, it presents an ethical issue.
Teachers ignore the needs of students with disabilities in a multitude of ways. It includes the non-provision of instructional material and accommodations for students with disabilities. In the majority of cases, teachers have low expectations from disability students and do not apply the same professional rigor to them as they do with other students, thus preventing inclusive education. Therefore, this issue compromises ethics of care and justice on several parameters. In this case, teachers prevent students from accessing the material in equal measure. Consequently, the quality of education for students with disabilities without special modifications and accommodations drops dramatically (Damianidou, & Phtiaka, 2017).
In regards to the described situation, ethics of care have been violated on several occasions. Firstly, education is supposed to recognize every student’s individual educational, academic, personal and social needs as well as students’ values (Litwack, 2003). In addition, educators are supposed to take personal responsibility in providing quality teaching (Litwack, 2003). In the failure to provide proper instructions and accommodations, teachers do not recognize the personal needs of the student, they fail to take personal responsibility for the quality of their work. Rights and justice ethics were breached in several aspects as well. In the failure to meet the needs of students with disabilities, teachers fail to respect their dignity, worth, and uniqueness, which is a universal right, according to the code of teaching ethics (Litwack, 2003). As a result, the students fail to learn in accordance with their educational ability and potential. Teaching strategies, learning plans, and differentiated learning patterns are supposed to be planned with respect to the capabilities of all student.
Biesta, G. (2015). What is education for? On good education, teacher judgement, and educational professionalism. European Journal of Education, 50(1), 75-87.
Damianidou, E., & Phtiaka, H. (2017). Implementing inclusion in disabling settings: The role of teachers’ attitudes and practices. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10, 1-15.
Haegele, J. A., & Sutherland, S. (2015). Perspectives of students with disabilities toward physical education: A qualitative inquiry review. Quest, 67(3), 255-273.