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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Inclusion part one: Three out of four

There has been a mad rush to include all but the most severely disabled children into regular education classrooms. If you didn’t know, up to now many had been in self-contained classrooms, which were typically smaller, or their academics. Very few of this middle group, between the severely disabled and the non-disabled student would receive a regular diploma. Instead they would get a certificate of completion or a special diploma. These students would have to take the G.E.D. if they wanted to go to college or go into the military.

The argument or the change is that many of these children were being short-changed and they would benefit from a more rigorous education environment. The truth however is probably somewhere in the middle.

Last year I wrote a memo to my principal and the director of special education services, it was the same memo that I had written the year before. I said I had about twelve students who I thought could benefit from taking a regular education class. Where I was teaching the same standards I was teaching them at a very slow pace. There was no way I would cover the amount of material that would be covered in a regular education class. I didn’t mention it because I thought it was understood, that I had sixty kids in my classes that I felt were properly placed.

Fast forward a year and special education only classes (again accept for the most severe disabled) have practically been phased out and the vast majority of students have been thrown into regular education class. It did not matter to the powers-that-be that these kids have been placed in these classes without the foundation and skills they need to be successful. Teachers devoid of magic wands are supposed to miraculously catch them up, though it’s my opinion that the administration would be just as happy with teachers just passing them along.

This brings me to the meaning of three of four.

A biology class that I provide support services for was taking a test. Towards the end of the class the teacher said two more minutes, who’s not finished. Four hands went up; three of them were special education students. They work and try hard, they are some of the brightest ESE students we have and with reasonable accommodations modifications and most importantly time, I believe they can achieve whatever their regular education counterparts can. I have real concerns however that they can get those things especially the time they will need be successful in the fast moving pace of a regular education classroom.

These three were part of the group I wrote a memo about, the ones I thought could be successful. Can you imagine my concerns about the other sixty or so; the ones that I thought were placed correctly in my classroom?

Education shouldn’t either be this or that, kids after all aren’t.

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