This summer the Justice Department accused Georgia of segregating students in special education into schools with fewer or non-existent resources. More specifically, Georgia was accused of segregating students who have emotional/ behavioral disorders. While I could feign shock and surprise, this isn’t a problem exclusive to Georgia. This is a nationwide issue. It’s an issue happening in the state where I pay taxes and in school systems where I’ve worked. Students with behavior disorders are often placed in a more restrictive environments based on their challenges in the general education or even in public school special education placements. Those more restrictive programs, in my experience, are not equal to the educational experiences of non-disabled peers. Not even close.
While we’ve come a long way with our inclusionary practices, we haven’t figured it all out yet. We haven’t even hit the tip of the iceberg with managing resources for special education, providing the necessary professional development and training for all educators, or developing a strong understanding of the complicated children we lump under federal disability categories. We do a lot of things right in special education but there is also a lot of room for improvement. I’m a bit excited to see what comes out of the situation in Georgia and to see if a ripple effect across the nation will indeed occur. In my humble opinion, it certainly needs to happen.
A beautifully written article about all the reasons why we should be including all students in the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible. In the wise words of Lisa Dieker, “inclusion isn’t something you do, it’s something you believe.”
A few of my favorite quotes from this article include:
“Inclusion isn’t something you do,” explained Lisa Dieker, referring to the practice in which children with special needs are included in general education classes. “It’s something you believe.”
“A child who is not included in general education classes is missing out on the full-range of educational and social experiences that prepare other students to be as successful as possible in their adult lives,” said Ricki Sabia
“Inclusion teaches everyone in the classroom to accept students with disabilities and value their contributions, to adapt to challenges and celebrate strengths.”
“…learning alongside his peers gives him the opportunity to live alongside his peers, as independently as he is able and chooses.”
“At its best, inclusion is about relationships, high expectations, and perseverance,” said Cindi May
“The biggest risk of not including a child with disabilities is that we limit everyone’s potential as human beings,” said Nicole Eredics
“A truly inclusive classroom is modified so every student is part of the instruction.”