Thursday, August 13, 2009
Inclusion: a balancing act of students’ rights
The evolution of Special Education is America has created education models of many shapes and sizes – most immeasurable, but all driven by compassion for special education students and their families. The days of nearly complete segregation of these students from the general student population are virtually over.
The latest model adopted by the county’s educational experts is called “inclusion.” It is a more aggressive form of “mainstreaming.” Many parents of special education students strongly advocate for inclusion of their child into the general classroom. Some claim including special ed students improves their academic performance and their behavior (through modeling of the general student population). There are no conclusive studies to prove this.
A most comprehensive and readable article about inclusion (pros and cons) from the Wisconsin Education Association Council can be found by clicking here.
“Inclusion remains a controversial concept in education because it relates to educational and social values, as well as to our sense of individual worth.
Any discussion about inclusion should address several important questions:
· Do we value all children equally?
· What do we mean by "inclusion"?
· Are there some children for whom "inclusion" is inappropriate?
There are advocates on both sides of the issue. James Kauffman of the University of Virginia views inclusion as a policy driven by an unrealistic expectation that money will be saved. Furthermore, he argues that trying to force all students into the inclusion mold is just as coercive and discriminatory as trying to force all students into the mold of a special education class or residential institution.
On the other side are those who believe that all students belong in the regular education classroom, and that "good" teachers are those who can meet the needs of all the students, regardless of what those needs may be.
Between the two extremes are large groups of educators and parents who are confused by the concept itself.”
DCSS has embraced inclusion whole-heartedly and is slowly whittling down its self-contained special education classrooms. Is this motivated by a perceived monetary savings or compassion and parental requests? Are special education teachers pressured to create IEPs for their students that include inclusion – whether the student is truly ready or not? Are special ed students with severe behavioral issues being included in general education classrooms at the expense of the other children? Are general education teachers properly prepared and trained to handle the unique needs of special education students? What have your experiences been?