I remember 20 plus years ago when I was 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, stated that I probably shouldn’t waste my time getting a masters in Particular Education. He said that Special Schooling would be eventually fading out of open public education. I was almost done with my masters at this point so I figured I might have to take my chances with it, apart from what other choice did I have anyways at that point?
I got a Special Education work and taught for about 10 calendar year. There were a lot of ups and downs over all those 10 years, and eventually I decided that I wanted a change so I got qualified and switched over to high school background. At this point in my career I appreciated what my friend had said about ten years ago and wondered if I was ahead 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 secure in my new-found home in the background department.
Well, I loved training history, but life has its funny ways that aren’t aligned to us and what we want, so after a decade of teaching history I personally got a first class education on spending budget cuts and my job has been eliminated. Thankfully, I landed upon my feet back in Special Training, believe it or not.
It had been more than two decades considering that my old graduate school pal told me that the need for special education and learning teachers was disappearing. During the earlier two decades my friend had gone from graduate school to elementary school teacher to assistant principal to primary, just like his father had done. 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. Plus believe it or not there was still a bunch of unique education jobs available when I landed there for a second time. In fact, there was actually plenty of jobs presently there because there is a shortage of unique education teachers in 49 away from our 50 states. Imagine that… 2 decades after I was told that Special Education was going away, and I discover that they still can’t seem to obtain enough special education teachers.
Fast-forward a few more years to today plus there is a new and interesting twist affecting Special Education called complete inclusion. Now inclusion isn’t a brand new thing to our schools. As a matter of fact addition has a long interesting history in our schools.
Six decades ago there is the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Schooling. In 1954 the new law from the land became integrated schools for all races. Four decades ago the 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 interconnected included in with the general education human population.
To help this happen schools make 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 requirements 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 atmosphere in a short story that one would not bring a machine gun to manage a fly. Rather, one would simply bring a fly-swatter to take care of a fly. In other words, if a kid’s disability 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 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 Region 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 incorporated into elective classes like physical schooling, 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 schools say that want to break down the walls between general education and Unique Education creating a system in which college students will get more help when they need it, and that support doesn’t need to be inside 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 unique education students back from specific 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 small further along in the process Portland can make an interesting case study. Many of the parents who else initially supported the idea of integrating exclusive education students into regular schooling classrooms in Portland are now worried about how the Portland Public School System 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 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 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 planet a better place. I don’t think they necessarily need to go to college to do that. I believe that children are individuals, and when we stop treating them as individuals, there’s a problem. ” Sadly, a lot of 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 universities 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 training students can be in the regular schooling classrooms.
A few years ago I actually had a non-speaking paraplegic boy in a wheel chair who was on a breathing respirator sitting in my regular training 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, 1000 miles of territory and conquering much of the known world during those times. By the way, Alexander the Great also utilized his own model of inclusion by stimulating kindness to the conquered and encouraging his soldiers to marry the captured territory’s women in order to create a lasting peace.
Other important factors to consider in special education inclusion could be the much needed socialization and the saving pounds integration offers. Kids learn from additional kids and money not used on Special Education could be spent on general education, right? Hmm…
If you observed, I said a little bit earlier that many 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 too much of the teacher’s time and attention from all 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 downright unfair to all of the other children in there. Similar cases could be made for some other severe disabilities too that requirement too much of the main stream teacher’s person time and attention.
Hey, Now i am not saying to never try out a child with a severe disability in a general education setting. But what I am saying is that schools need to have a better system of monitoring these placements and also quickly remove students that tend to be not working out, and are taking precious understanding time away from other students. Moreover, schools need to do this without shaming the teacher because the teacher complained that the student wasn’t a good match and was disrupting the educational learning process of the other students. Making a kid in an inappropriate placement just isn’t good for any of the parties involved. Time period.
Over the last two decades I have worked with a lot more special education students than I could remember as a special education instructor 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 needy kids placed in my classes. You will find worked miracles with these kids over the years and I know that I am not the only 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 incredibly dedicated and pulling off day-to-day miracles in the classroom, districts, neighborhood leaders, and politician may be pushing too hard for the full-inclusion model convinced that the teachers will just have to shape it out. Setting up teachers plus students for failure is never a good idea.
Furthermore, I hope it’s simply not the money that they are trying to save while pushing this full-inclusion model forwards 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 academic pie is sliced, the bottom line is how the pie is just too small and our special education teachers and the 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 hear the bosses say that the reason they are pushing for the full-inclusion model is really because socialization is so important. I know it is necessary. 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 offering them what they really need. I have seen special education students whose skills only let them draw pictures sitting down in honors classes. There is no genuine socialization taking place here.
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It simply doesn’t make sense.