Art Of Inclusion Essay, Research Paper
Full Inclusion has become a nation wide movement to include more disabled students in regular classrooms. Full Inclusion ignores the issues of the individual child and focuses more on the social issues and aspects of things. While this program has been proven to be successful in some schools, full inclusion has only created problems in others and a change from status quo must occur. Costs, distracted students, and untrained teachers are just a few of the many problems involved. Full Inclusion is an extremely controversial idea involved in the education system today. The opinions concerning this topic widely differ yet not all of these concerns are taken into account. The status quo of full inclusion is a one size fits all philosophy which is greatly opposed for many different reasons.
Inclusion is a term which explains the commitment to educate each child to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing the support services to the child (instead of moving the child to the service) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class (instead of having to keep up with the other students). Full Inclusion opposed to inclusion means that all students, regardless of handicapping condition or severity, will be in a regular classroom or program full time. All services must be taken to the child in that setting (Special Education Inclusion). Those who support the idea of inclusion believe that the child always should begin in the regular environment and be removed only when the appropriate services can not be given in the regular classroom.
The Status quo of full inclusion is stated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Act states that all students to the maximum extent appropriate, handicapped children, including those children in public and private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not handicapped, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of handicapped children from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the handicap that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily (Villa and Thousand 5). However, because this law never uses the term inclusion, there is a large amount of debate around what is actually required. It is clear that the main purpose of the law is to limit the removal from regular education environment to the largest possible extent, therefore a person against full inclusion would argue that this would mean a regular classroom all the time, after all, what could be less restrictive then the normal setting of a typical classroom with a general education teacher (Mackenzie par.3). Depending on the severity of the disability the law might not be the best thing for the person, yet it s a law and needs to be followed and that is part of the controversial situation. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act it ensures that the placement of every child with a handicapped condition be determined annually, and be based on the child s individual education program, also the school in which they will attend is to be as close as possible to the child s home. In addition to all of these factors, the law includes the idea that unless a handicapped child s individual education program requires some other arrangement, the child is educated in the school which he or she would attend if not handicapped (Villa and Thousand 8-9). All these factors, the law requires bring about a great amount of controversy when applying it to the view of full inclusion.
More often then not, educators look only at the socialization emphasis children receive, in this case being placed with regular kids, and less at the academic benefits the child will receive. This thing about socialization being the most important factor-I don t believe in that, said Barbara DiGiacomo, special education teacher at Wood Park Primary School in Commack (Hildebrand 4). Schools are places of learning. Often the child s social growth improves but, they do not learn as much as they would placed with other special education students (Hildebrand 4). The selective pullout programs that target specific needs do not need these social goals. Such social benefits can be accomplished in other ways throughout the child s school experiences (Crawford par 7.). The primary focus of education is academic and lifetime skills, although it may appear to be that socialization is a higher goal. Some would say that students in general education are already so much different, their needs so diverse that many students are falling behind already. This is because the curriculum and ways of instruction are not meeting the students needs. Thus by adding millions of students, whose needs are even greater, into something that is already struggling to succeed, would complicate things to a great extent (Baker and Zigmond 520).
Inclusion has become a controversial issue among parents, teachers, and school administrators because of the idea of disruption. They believe that by having students with disabilities into the regular classrooms it may disrupt school activities or require excessive amounts of class time. They worry that inclusion slows educational progress both for students with disabilities and for their non-disabled peers (Encarta Online). If a child causes excessive disruption in class, the child might not be benefiting educationally in that environment. Social behavior problems may take the form of inappropriately touching other people, acting impulsively without considering the consequence of behavior, or throwing temper tantrums could be very disruptive to the class room (Henson 21). For example, in the case Clyde and Sheila K v. Puyallup School District, 1994, the court ruled that the child s history of assaultive and disruptive behavior in addition to having Tourette s Syndrome andADHD were valid reasons to exclude him from school. He was not allowed to interfere with the education of other children (Villa and Thousand 39). In addition to interfering with their education, inclusion of children with severe behavioral problems could also endanger other children in the class putting them at risk of being bitten or hit.
When full inclusion is effective it can be seen as harmful to students because of the idea that it does not fit to the students individual needs as would in a special school or something of such. In this way, each student can experience the realization of their potential as their needs are met. Full inclusion in a way is a one size fits all philosophy (Mackenzie par.2). Many observers maintain the idea that full inclusion isn t always the best way to meet student needs. Critics of full inclusion ask whether even students with the most severe disabilities benefit from placement in regular classrooms. While few educators oppose inclusion completely, some express reservations about how full inclusion works in the classroom ( Inclusion: Has It Gone Too Far par.2). Albert Shanker, writing for the American Federation of Teachers in 1996 in Where We Stand, stated:
What full inclusionists don t see is that children with disabilities are individuals with differing needs; some benefit from inclusion and others do not. Full inclusionists don t see that medically fragile children and children with sever behavioral disorders are more likely to be harmed then helped when they are placed in regular classrooms where teachers do not have the highly specialized training to deal with their needs. (Shanker par.5)
Students with severe disabilities even, to a smaller degree need a more segregated environment, but the decision for each child must be made on a case-by-case basis. When deciding the direction of a special needs child another factor should be closely looked at in order to justify the needs of the child. This factor is to consider whether the child is capable of benefiting from regular education. Along with this factor is the idea of whether or not the child can achieve the essential elements of the regular education curriculum (Arnold and Dodge par.3). Some children might become frustrated by their un-ableness to succeed in the regular classroom. If frustration gets so out of control that it outweighs any benefit that could be received from the regular classroom situation, full inclusion is proved unimportant and unsuccessful to the child. Similarly, other children might need more structure than is available in the regular setting (Arnold and Dodge par.6). The policy of full inclusion says that all students should be educated in general education classrooms, and that this policy should be implemented immediately with all students. Such a policy is different then the idea of a least restrictive environment as it was written in the law (Crawford, par.2).
Teachers are not fond of the idea on inclusion either. Disabled students only make their jobs harder. When a teacher gives a test they often have to explain each question in depth. This process is rather time consuming. One problem is that most teachers have a lack of training. For example, one boy that was placed in a regular class, threw many tantrums and had difficulty with toilet training. The teacher did not have the type of training to deal with this type of behavior. Teachers also were spending more time with their special education students causing them to have less planning time for the rest of the class (Hildebrand par.5-6). The issue of general education teachers preparedness for the great task of educating students with special needs (Stoler par. 18). The school systems will just have to change in order to meet the needs of an even greater range of students. Here is a brief analysis of what might have to occur in order to get the education system adequate enough for full inclusion to be successful. Thousands of teachers with have to be trained, and teachers will resist this process, so a great amount of persuasion will be needed, not to mention it will require plenty of new certified staff. This would likely occur because of the tight budget which is usually a given.
There I no doubt that every child, regardless of abilities, disabilities, problems, or status, has a right to a free public education. But that does not mean that any particular child has a right to a particular child has a right to a particular placement in a particular class or a particular school. (Noll 198)
I truly believe that supported inclusion is a practice that has helped thousands of students. I argue, however, that full inclusion violates the least restricted environment and individual education planning and does not prove to benefit the needs of a disabled student.