I remember 20 plus years ago when I had been getting my graduate degree within Special Education and a buddy of mine getting his degree within elementary education told me that their father, a school principal, declared that I probably shouldn’t waste our time getting a masters in Special Education. He said that Special Schooling would be eventually fading out of public education. I was almost done with our masters at this point so I figured I would have to take my chances with it, apart from what other choice did I have anyhow at that point?
I got a Special Education job and taught for about 10 12 months. There were a lot of ups and downs over these 10 years, and eventually I decided which i wanted a change so I got accredited and switched over to high school history. At this point in my career I remembered what my friend had said about ten years ago and wondered if I was in front of the curve on schools no longer requiring special education teachers, even though it has been 10 years later. I wondered in the event that my job was now secure in my new-found home in the background department.
Well, I loved training history, but life has its very own funny ways that aren’t aligned to us and what we want, so after a decade of teaching history I personally obtained a first class education on spending budget cuts and my job was eliminated. Thankfully, I landed on my feet back in Special Education and learning, believe it or not.
It had been more than two decades given that my old graduate school pal told me that the need for special training teachers was disappearing. During the prior two decades my friend had gone from graduate student school to elementary school teacher to assistant principal to primary, just like his father had accomplished. I had gone from graduate college to special education teacher in order to history teacher to back to special education teacher, like nobody otherwise that I know had done. And believe it or not there was still a bunch of unique education jobs available when I landed there for a second time. As a matter of fact, there was actually plenty of jobs presently there because there is a shortage of exclusive education teachers in 49 out of our 50 states. Imagine that… Two decades after I was told that Exclusive Education was going away, and I discover that they still can’t seem to get enough special education teachers.
Fast-forward a few more years to today plus there is a new and interesting distort affecting Special Education called full inclusion. Now inclusion isn’t a new thing to our schools. As a matter of fact inclusion has a long interesting history in our schools.
Six decades ago there was clearly the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Schooling. In 1954 the new law from the land became integrated schools for many races. Four decades ago the particular ground-breaking law of Individuals with Afflictions Education Act (IDEA) began to take effect and help ensure that a lot more than six million students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate education, which means they too get to be included in with the general education populace.
To help this happen schools build a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) that meet and discuss a student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) and then place the student in the suitable educational setting based on the student’s needs and the law. The placement also needs to be the least restrictive environment (LRE). I can still remember my college professor describing the least restrictive environment in a short story that one would not bring a machine gun to take care of a fly. Rather, one would just bring a fly-swatter to take care of the fly. In other words, if a kid’s impairment can be dealt with in the neighborhood college, then the kid doesn’t have to be delivered across town or even to another town’s unique school.
Today, many schools making the effort to improve on this inclusion model and least restrictive environment by heading from a partial to a full-inclusion model. Schools in the Los Angeles School Region have moved a vast majority of their learners out of their special education facilities within the last three years and into neighborhood schools where they are fully incorporated into elective classes like physical education and learning, gardening and cooking. They are also integrated into regular main stream academic classes as well, but it’s usually not to the same degree as electives.
Michigan institutions say that want to break down the wall space between general education and Unique Education creating a system in which learners will get more help when they need it, and that support doesn’t need to be inside a separate special education classroom.
Several school districts in Portland, Oregon are a little further along than the La schools that are just bringing exclusive education students back from unique schools and Michigan schools which are just beginning to try full incorporation of its students and eliminating the majority of the special education classrooms.
Being a little further along in the process Portland can make an interesting case study. Many of the parents that initially supported the idea of integrating exclusive education students into regular schooling classrooms in Portland are now concerned about how the Portland Public School Strategy is doing it. Portland is aiming for full-inclusion by the year 2020. However , a few of the teachers in Portland are saying, “Obviously the special education students are likely to fail and they are going to act out mainly because we are not meeting their needs… When there’s not the right support presently there, that’s not acceptable, not only for the kid, but for the general education teacher too. ”
A Portland parent said, “I would rather have my kid feel successful than for them to become ‘college-ready’. ” She further states, “I want my children to be good, well-rounded human beings that make the world a better place. I don’t think these people necessarily need to go to college to do that. I think that children are individuals, and when we stop treating them as individuals, there’s a problem. ” Sadly, several parents and teachers have left the particular Portland School District, and many more are usually fantasizing about it because they feel the full-inclusion model isn’t working there how they pictured it would.
How much should educational institutions integrate the special education college students is the burning question of the hr. In my personal experience some incorporation is not only possible, but it’s a must. With some support many of the special education and learning students can be in the regular schooling classrooms.
A few years ago I also had a non-speaking paraplegic boy within a wheel chair who was on a breathing respirator sitting in my regular schooling social studies class. Every day his para professional and his nurse rolled him into and sat along with him. He always smiled at the tales I told of Alexander the Great marching across 11, 1000 miles of territory and overcoming much of the known world at that time. By the way, Alexander the Great also utilized his own model of inclusion by encouraging kindness to the conquered and encouraging his soldiers to marry the captured territory’s women in order to make a lasting peace.
Other important factors to think about in special education inclusion may be the much needed socialization and the saving pounds integration offers. Kids learn from some other kids and money not used on Special Education could be spent on common education, right? Hmm…
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If you observed, I said a little bit earlier that lots of special education students could be built-in, but I did not say any even most should be integrated. There are just some students that are going to take away too much of the teacher’s time and attention from other students, such as, in the case of students with severe behavior problems. When we put severe behavior problems in normal education classes it’s just overall unfair to all of the other children in there. Similar cases could be made for some other severe disabilities too that demand too much of the main stream teacher’s person time and attention.
Hey, I am just not saying to never try out a child with a severe disability in a general education setting. But what I feel saying is that schools need to have a better system of monitoring these placements and also quickly remove students that usually are working out, and are taking precious learning time away from other students. Additionally, schools need to do this without shaming the teacher because the teacher complained that the student wasn’t a good suit and was disrupting the academic learning process of the other students. Causing a kid in an inappropriate placement isn’t good for any of the parties involved. Time period.
Over the last two decades I have worked with more special education students than I could remember as a special education teacher and a regular education teacher teaching inclusion classes. I have learned to become extremely flexible and patient and thus have had some of the toughest and most clingy kids placed in my classes. I have worked miracles with these kids through the years and I know that I am not the only real teacher out there doing this. There are many more out there just like me. But , the things i worry about is that because teachers are extremely dedicated and pulling off everyday miracles in the classroom, districts, neighborhood leaders, and politician may be pressing too hard for the full-inclusion model convinced that the teachers will just have to number it out. Setting up teachers plus students for failure is certainly not a good idea.
Furthermore, I hope it’s just not the money that they are trying to save while pushing this full-inclusion model ahead because what we should really be trying to save is our children. As Fredrick Douglas said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken guys. ” Regardless of how the financial educational pie is sliced, the bottom line is that the pie is just too small and the special education teachers and our special education students shouldn’t be designed to pay for this.
In addition , I have been the teacher for too long to not be at least a little skeptical when I listen to the bosses say that the reason they may be pushing for the full-inclusion model happens because socialization is so important. I know it’s important. But , I also know that too many people are usually hanging their hats on that will socialization excuse rather than education our special needs students and delivering them what they really need. I have noticed special education students whose abilities only let them draw pictures seated in honors classes. There is no genuine socialization taking place here. It just doesn’t make sense.