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Inclusion in Class
Inclusion “mainstreams” physically, mentally, and multiply disabled children into regular classrooms. Back in the sixties and the seventies, disabled children were excluded all together from regular classrooms. Currently, the federal inclusion law, I.D.E.A. (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), addresses children whose handicaps range from autistic and very severe to mild (I.D.E.A. Law Page). From state to state the laws of inclusion vary. The laws may permit the special needs children to be in regular classrooms all day and for all subjects or for just one or two subjects (Vann 31). Other times the state laws allow those with special needs to have aids with them to help them in the regular classrooms (Sornson). There are many more variations. The creators of inclusion had the right idea in mind, but it is misused by many administrators and teachers because they aren’t focused enough on what the children really need. I believe that inclusion is not beneficial to normal children or special need students because of the difficult learning environment it creates.
My oppositions leads a strong argument; every child should be able to experience a regular classroom in order to mature and socialize with other children in normal situations (Stussman 18). This is true; children need to be around other children in order to learn how to interact. In stating that, inclusion is one way to let children “mingle” and socially grow into adults who can communicate with the rest of the world. In March of 1997, “The Educational Digest” composed an article on Barak Stussman. She has mild cerebral palsy. She shared with the readers her story of how inclusion worked in her life. Barak retold how she felt deep sadness when she realized she was not “regular”. This made her hate going to school (Stussman 19). Two important statements were made by Barak: “If children do not perceive barriers, they will amaze you with what they are capable of doing,” and “I believe public school systems should be a microcosm of the ‘real world’” (Stussman 20). My oppositions feels inclusion is beneficial to children because they believe in the concept, “what you really need to make it in this world is good people skills and common sense; not academic achievement.”
However, the truth is that some children can not be in regular classrooms. Special needs children with medium to severe difficulties can get over looked and not receive an aid to help them in the regular classroom (Francis-Williams 2). The way the state laws are being applied is not effective (Sornson). The utilization of aids and special services has become so selective that most children in need are not receiving adequate attention. It is not that there is a shortage of help. It is that the school systems do not put enough effort into finding the best way to support and educate these disabled children (Sornson).
There are severe consequences that come from not effectively helping special needs children. One is that teachers have to split up their attention between approximately twenty-five “normal” children and their one or two special needs students. This puts a lot of stress and responsibility on the teacher (Lieberman 62). The teacher may end up slowing down the regular children’s learning because they want to help the handicapped children or s/he may ignore the special needs students and teach only the regular children. Either way, one group could get short changed (Lieberman 63). Although I do believe there are good teachers out there who could balance the responsibilities and actually teach both groups, there seem to be a higher number of teachers who would not put in the effort it would take.
Another consequence derived from the lack of aids per student in the classroom is that the children could truly be in danger (Francis-Williams 10). What if there were a child with epilepsy who were to go into a seizure and hurt themselves or another child in the classroom? It is a very real possibility. If there were not an aid to watch over and help the special needs child, it could be a great risk. There are many other disabilities that can cause harm to special needs students and to those around him/her. Not only is there physical harm that can come about
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Segregation, Special education, Disability, Education policy, Educational psychology, Inclusion, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Classroom, Mainstreaming
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