I recall 20 plus years ago when I had been getting my graduate degree within Special Education and a buddy of mine getting his degree in elementary education told me that his father, a school principal, said that I probably shouldn’t waste our time getting a masters in Particular Education. He said that Special Education and learning would be eventually fading out of general public education. I was almost done with the 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 authorized and switched over to high school background. At this point in my career I remembered what my friend had said a decade ago and wondered if I was in front of the curve on schools no longer requiring special education teachers, even though it had been 10 years later. I wondered in the event that my job was now safe in my new-found home in the history department.
Well, I loved teaching history, but life has its own funny ways that aren’t aligned to us and what we want, so following a decade of teaching history I personally obtained a first class education on budget cuts and my job has been eliminated. Thankfully, I landed on my feet back in Special Education, believe it or not.
It had been more than two decades since my old graduate school friend told me that the need for special training teachers was disappearing. During the earlier two decades my friend had gone from graduate school to elementary school teacher to assistant principal to principal, just like his father had performed. I had gone from graduate school to special education teacher in order to history teacher to back to special education teacher, like nobody else that I know had done. And believe it or not there was still a bunch of particular education jobs available when I arrived there for a second time. Actually, there was actually plenty of jobs there because there is a shortage of particular education teachers in 49 from our 50 states. Imagine that… Two decades after I was told that Special Education was going away, and I find 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 brand new thing to our schools. As a matter of fact inclusion has a long interesting history within our schools.
Six decades ago there was clearly the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Education and learning. In 1954 the new law from the land became integrated schools for everyone races. Four decades ago the particular ground-breaking law of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) began to get effect and help ensure that more than six million students with afflictions 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 produce a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) that meet and discuss the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) and then place the student in the appropriate educational setting based on the student’s needs and the law. The placement should also be the least restrictive environment (LRE). I can still remember my college professor describing the least restrictive atmosphere in a short story that one may not bring a machine gun to deal with a fly. Rather, one would simply 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 sent across town or even to another town’s special school.
Today, many schools are attempting to improve on this inclusion model and least restrictive environment by going from a partial to a full-inclusion model. Schools in the Los Angeles School Area have moved a vast majority of their students out of their special education centers within the last three years and into neighborhood schools where they are fully integrated into elective classes like physical education and learning, gardening and cooking. They are also incorporated into regular main stream academic lessons as well, but it’s usually not to exactly the same degree as electives.
Michigan educational institutions say that want to break down the walls between general education and Unique Education creating a system in which students will get more help when they need it, and that support doesn’t need to be within a separate special education classroom.
A few school districts in Portland, Or are a little further along than the Los Angeles schools that are just bringing specific education students back from exclusive schools and Michigan schools that 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 makes an interesting case study. Many of the parents who also initially supported the idea of integrating particular education students into regular education and learning classrooms in Portland are now worried about how the Portland Public School Strategy is doing it. Portland is aiming for full-inclusion by the year 2020. However , some of the teachers in Portland are saying, “Obviously the special education students are going to fail and they are going to act out since we are not meeting their needs… When there’s not the right support presently there, that’s not acceptable, not only for the child, but for the general education teacher as well. ”
A Portland parent mentioned, “I would rather have my child feel successful than for them to be ‘college-ready’. ” She further states, “I want my children to be good, well-rounded human beings that make the planet 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 all of us stop treating them as people, there’s a problem. ” Sadly, many parents and teachers have left the Portland School District, and many more are fantasizing about it because they feel the full-inclusion model isn’t working there how they pictured it would.
How much should institutions integrate the special education 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 education and learning classrooms.
A few years ago I even had a non-speaking paraplegic boy within a wheel chair who was on a breathing respirator sitting in my regular education and learning social studies class. Every day his para professional and his nurse folded him into and sat with him. He always smiled at the tales I told of Alexander the Great marching across 11, 000 miles of territory and overcoming much of the known world at that time. By the way, Alexander the Great also used his own model of inclusion by stimulating kindness to the conquered and stimulating his soldiers to marry the particular captured territory’s women in order to produce a lasting peace.
Other important factors to think about in special education inclusion will be the much needed socialization and the saving of money integration offers. Kids learn from some other kids and money not spent on Special Education could be spent on common education, right? Hmm…
If you observed, I said a little bit earlier that lots of special education students could be incorporated, but I did not say all or even most should be integrated. You will find just some students that are going to take away a lot of teacher’s time and attention from all other students, such as, in the case of students along with severe behavior problems. When we put severe behavior problems in regular education classes it’s just outright unfair to all of the other children in there. Similar cases could be made for various other severe disabilities too that need too much of the main stream teacher’s individual time and attention.
Hey, Now i’m not saying to never try out a kid with a severe disability in a general education setting. But what I was saying is that schools need to have a better system of monitoring these placements and be able to quickly remove students that aren’t 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 fit and was disrupting the academic learning process of the other students. Causing a kid in an inappropriate placement basically good for any of the parties involved. Period.
Over the last two decades I have worked with a lot 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 therefore have had some of the toughest and most clingy kids placed in my classes. I possess worked miracles with these kids through the years and I know that I am not the only teacher out there doing this.
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There are many a lot more out there just like me. But , the things i worry about is that because teachers are incredibly dedicated and pulling off daily miracles in the classroom, districts, local community leaders, and politician may be pushing too hard for the full-inclusion model thinking that the teachers will just have to physique it out. Setting up teachers and students for failure is in no way a good idea.
Furthermore, I hope it’s just not the money that they are trying to save while pushing this full-inclusion model forward 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 men. ” Regardless of how the financial educational pie is sliced, the bottom line is that the pie is just too small and our special education teachers and our own special education students shouldn’t be designed to pay for this.
In addition , I have been a teacher for too long to not end up being at least a little skeptical when I listen to the bosses say that the reason these are pushing for the full-inclusion model is really 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 socialization excuse rather than education our special needs students and offering them what they really need. I have seen special education students whose abilities only let them draw pictures sitting in honors classes. There is no true socialization taking place here. It simply doesn’t make sense.