Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Inclusion Debate

I’m of the mind that students with developmental disabilities should be educated with their non disabled peers. It just makes sense that in a school setting both groups of kids would benefit from this exposure. Of course inclusive education needs to be set up and implemented properly, ensuring that ALL students’ needs are met.

Apparently, not some other interested parties are in agreement with me on this. There is a good article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Online which goes into length about the ongoing debate.

7 comments:

Rob at Kintropy said...

David,

Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen the story.

In my experience (particularly as a child in a "mainstreaming" school in the 70s), inclusion works well when supported by the teachers, staff, parents, and school district. Implementation (and follow-up/adjustments as needed) are key as you point out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. Students who have disabilities and handicaps of any kind should be in schools together. My 7 yr old grandson who has severe CP has not been exposed to any of the regular kids to even see how they walk and talk and play. His school does nothing worth much to help him develop and he is in front of the TV and home the rest of the time. He needs to see life as it is and so do these kids that we call normal.

David McDonald said...

It looked to me that some of the parents who were opposed were placing blame on the philosophy of inclusion rather than the lack of support their students were receiving.

Anon...
What school district are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

I just keep finding more and more to comment about reading all of this. On schools, and kids on IEP's my now 18 yr old some was placed on one from 2nd grade to the last yr of HS which he did not graduate. He has a wrting disability and has struggled with no help for years. I got an attorney to pull his entire file to discover the school system got $167,000 just for my son in this time. They couldn't even spend $199 for him to have a dragon natually computer program to write. He like a dozens in our Columbia County School district are on the streets now not educated because of this system. My son is in Job Corp trying to complete his HS. They really gave me and other parents like us alot of trouble when we got smart and started to question them but they also retailate on a lot of kids in the hope they will go away and quit school. Don't bother with the education attorneys, they are just out for the money for themselves on an average of $40 grand by the time you realize they are useless or you could have done the job yourself. These kids also get labeled as disaplinary in later school age when they really are merely frustrated and ashamed

GG's mom said...

hi,
I have to say that, as a parent of a severely mrdd daughter, NOT all students should be mainstreamed. maybe for part of a day, if even that for some. perhaps a lot of them can be but let's not do the "one size fits all" here, as you probably know, that is not gonna work.
I did experience the way they sort of mainstreamed my daughter, who cannot speak or feed herself. They forced her to eat lunch in a screaming loud cafeteria, very rushed, shoving food that she could not chew, down her throat and damaging it. Just too rough or chunky and not chewable for her.

they did NOT evaluate or know her needs very well. Way too much emphasis on "pretending to be normal" rather than actually dealing with the true interest or level of functioning of the student.
She was called "dorky" in my hearing, by another young student.
She was held underwater until she inhaled it, by a so-called swimming unit instructor. To "make her hold her breath" when she was not able to. She often gets pneumonia and this swimming unit contributed to it, they did not pay attention to things like wet hair in winter outside, etc.
There's too much special care needed for a lot of disabled kids to get that in a school setting. After all, what is a public school? It is merely a modern day institution for kids. Not nearly as nurturant of a place as your home, or a more private and small group setting.
so that is what i recommend: smaller more personally monitored groups, more parent direct involvement, and social groups within family and friend and peer groups, with lots of inclusion of "normal" people. We as the parents, should be the ones crafting the whole thing, for the most part. I know I do not, nor is it possible, to trust strangers with my special needs daughter, even now, as she is grown up. I have seen mrdd adults all but abandoned by their families, it is such a sad, unsafe and sometimes even fatal thing, for those individuals. Of course, I am not talking about people with mild disabilities here, but even they need lots of caring people around them, not just some paid staff who only want to do their 8 hours, go home and then get a paycheck. what do you really expect from that kind of scenario?
And, when I say that it should be parents doing the most, I mean that we can join and form these kinds of social groups that are more aware and caring, to create a social agenda for our own kids. It takes some doing, but it can be done, to form groups, and they can be small but all interconnected with larger ones.
Hasn't been done to any great extent, but it's my idea of what can work to socialize yet protect, because we are the ones who do and should know our kids/ family/ friends so much better than paid staff ever can.
Of course this is all retrospect, because my daughter is now in her late 20's.

David McDonald said...

I certainly understand the fear a parent might have around placing the care of their child in the hands of strangers. However; ultimately the parent won't be around to "supervise" or monitor what's going on in their child's life.

For this reason I believe the child must become as independent as possible.I maintain my belief that inclusive education when done right is the way to acheive this goal.

gg's mom said...

There are many, many people with SEVERE cognitive disabilities who do not have the capability to develop effective assertive "independence" as adults. They may be in guardianships for this reason, some are not. I fear for them, and those are the ones who I would like to see with a lot more inclusion of/ by family, friends and no more "confidentiality" and forced participation in the state's idea of what their idea of generic inclusion in mainstream is. Sometimes this is done to an extreme that is more directed by an outside, unfamiliar person rather than from the disabled person's needs, wishes, abilities, likes or dislikes; and other times is not well monitored to make sure the situation is really good for the recipient. Too often, the wish to get funding or have a job, is what motivates programs or staff, rather than caring about or understanding the needs of individuals. Such is the nature of business, and paid institutional and program workers are part of a business, not usually the recipient's loving family (goes without saying).