Below is an excerpt from Marilyn Cachola Lucey’s blog post “Schools Should Include Everyone,” on Ed100.org. Click here to read the full post.
When students with disabilities are educated alongside their peers without disabilities, outcomes improve for students both with and without disabilities. This approach to education is known as inclusive education.
The term inclusion captures, in one word, an all-embracing societal ideology. It is a mindset that drives actions to demonstrate all people are to be valued, appreciated, and included.
In California, we like to think that we are a state of innovators, creative thinkers, and the most progressive and accepting state. When it comes to inclusive education, we are not. According to a 2015 report from a Statewide Special Education Task Force Report, we have “a failure in schools and classrooms to consistently use the very evidence-based practices that are being used successfully in other parts of the country.”
Why Include Students With Disabilities in a Class If the Academic Content Isn’t At Their Level?
There are measures of success and educational values other than academic levels.
For students whose disability impacts their social, communication, attention, or regulation skills, segregating them into a class of students, with the same difficulties, robs them of positive and appropriate peer models. Placing them away from their peer community segregates them and sends a message to the larger community that it is acceptable to exclude them. The underlying message is ‘You don’t belong in here with us’ or ‘I can’t handle your difference’ and just like that, they become second class students.
Currently, exclusion exists in the very institution charged with teaching our children. Imagine if inclusion was rule of the day in schools, and our children learned to naturally expect inclusivity in college, career, and community because it was what they experienced in their PreK – 12 school.
Education is intended to develop the whole child and, by law, students can receive supports and services for functional and academic needs in a general education class.
Click here to read the rest of this blog post on Ed100.org.
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