This paper criticizes mainstream philosophical justifications for paternalism in children’s education, highlighting their exclusion of students labelled with intellectual disability. Most philosophical justifications of paternalism presume “able-mindedness” – that is, they presume that learners possess the potential to develop capacities of rationality and autonomy considered normal – and normatively superior – for adults. Prioritizing these able-minded norms obscures educationally worthwhile communicative, reasoning, and behavioural capacities that diverge from able-minded norms, but which nevertheless express forms of rational and epistemic agency that are educationally beneficial. The paper argues that able-mindedness therefore constitutes a conceptually impoverished basis for educational paternalism. A number of harmful educational implications of able-minded educational paternalism are explored and a more promising and inclusive avenue for justifying educational paternalism is briefly outlined.