Importance of Inclusion Classrooms
By: David DiMola, Chris Conterelli
Inclusion can be a very controversial subject. It deals with both social and educational values and involves ones overall self worth. An inclusion classroom is the education of all students regardless of their strengths or weaknesses. It eliminates separation in classroom based upon a student’s ability. IDEA, which is the federal Individuals Disabilities Education Act, states that is a schools obligation to educate disabled students in a general education classroom. Granting students all the same opportunities, enabling them to learn and participate in a classroom setting. It usually requires an aid beyond the individual teacher.
When examining an inclusion classroom you should analyze the importance of inclusion and if it is appropriate. There are people who oppose and support this concept. James Kauffman from the University of Virginia feels that inclusion is unrealistic and is just being used to save money. This implies that educators are not looking out for the best interest of their students. However, some people believe teachers can meet the needs of all students, regardless of disabilities.
A lot of parents wonder if inclusion is necessary in their child’s classroom. Some question it’s legality or if it is even required. They question how the needs of their kids are being met and if the school is capable of properly educating them.
As a teacher you need to know where your students are academically. Be aware of their individual strengths and weaknesses. By knowing these facts you can identify what students need extra assistance. Some inclusion classrooms have another teacher or aid present. Yet, not all students can carry out the same tasks. Some students require more help then others. You can reassess your lesson plans to see if they accommodate the needs of all students.
Mainstreaming is another term for inclusion. It pushes students to meet the requirements of a regular education classroom and keep up with any and all assignments. However, mainstreaming involves having the child in a special education environment and having that student earn his way into a regular classroom. The purpose of inclusion is to bring support to the students. In a full inclusion classroom all students are in a full time program regardless of their handicap or condition. All services are provided for that student in the program. The only time a student should be removed is if the proper services can not be provided to meet the needs of the individual student.
Inclusion is not required. The IDEA requires that an education be provided in the least restrictive environment for those with special needs. This begins with being placed in a regular education classroom. This acknowledges that not all students are meant for an inclusion classroom. It requires schools to have various programs to meet the needs of these specific students. These programs help to place each child appropriately in the environment best suited for them.
Mainstreaming and Inclusion are two typical protocols for children with learning disabilities. But, what is the more effective method for schools and learning disabled children? Parents often argue for their special needs child to be placed in a regular classroom setting, but the school often does not agree with this. These parents are partial to full time inclusion. The problem with inclusion is most school districts cannot afford to pay teachers to teach one student. The law provides parents the option to place their children an inclusion class. Not all districts can meet accommodate this option, so children are placed into special education classroom with a mainstreaming option.
Most parents feel that children with learning disabilities do not deserve to be in normal classrooms. They feel that learning-disabled children distract the rest of the class from learning. Mainstreaming evaluates learning-disabled students in a contained classroom and based on their individual achievements, is eased into a normal classroom setting. Most school districts practice this method of integration.
Some arguments call for all classrooms to be integrated with learning-disabled students. Experts feel that teachers should be capable of teaching all kinds of students. Mental capacity should not be taken into account. This argument does not take all options into account. We believe children need to be accessed and evaluated for inclusion and mainstreaming. There is nothing worse for a child’s self esteem than being placed into a special education classroom when it in not necessary.
As teachers, we need this screening process needs to be thorough and stringent. The idea of inclusion is ideal, but not all school districts can afford the cost. So, teachers in normal classrooms will have to accept students that would usually have extra help. And, other students will have to work their way into general education classroom from a special education setting.