Attitudes toward Inclusion, Instructional Accommodations and Fairness

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How important is it to include students with disabilities in general education classrooms? Is inclusion a legal right to be used to teach disable and non-disable students in the same classroom? Is it a moral and an ethical right to include inclusion if the parents oppose it? What are some of the practices that promote inclusion? How can school districts omit negative barriers that affect inclusion practices? How can school district address these barriers? Do we as educators value all the students equally? What do we mean by "inclusion"? Are there some children for whom "inclusion" is inappropriate? Is it in good faith that beginner teacher need to be trained to service special education students. Is technology a helpful tool for inclusion students? These are some of the issues that will be research to find the best solutions for all of the students to receive a free and appropriate education.

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"Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men - the balance-wheel of the social machinery." - Horace Mann

Introduction

In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted to give children with disabilities are the same benefits as non-disable peers to receive a free and appropriate education. In 1990, 1997, and 2004, "reauthorizations of this Act took place, and the law came to be known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)." IDEA mandates that all individuals with disabilities be provided a free and public education; they have the right to be taught in the least restrictive environment. Dr. Randal Brown has said that students with disabilities, whether in public, private and in charter schools, are, to the maximum extent of the law, be educated in the least restrictive environment. All children regardless of their disabilities are children. All children regardless of their disability will benefit from the same experiences that are desirable for all children, which is to be included and loved/wanted for their uniqueness. Students who are educated to respect diverse individuals will benefit from avoiding stereotyping and negative issues.

What is inclusion? Inclusion is a method used in public, private and in charter school district. It stipulates that all students regardless of their differences need to be educated in the same environment as their non-disable peers. It also stipulates that all individuals with disability be educated in a least restrictive environments and be given the opportunity to be involved with their non-disable peers. Inclusion pertains that all special education students be served in a regular education classrooms. The program is used by having the support services brought to the child, instead of having the child brought to the support services. Accordingly, the term inclusion is not mention in the federal law and or regulations, but it is use with the idea of integrating students with disabilities in the regular classroom setting.

The philosophy or concepts of inclusion has been received with many controversial issues. There are two forms of inclusion: inclusion and full inclusion. Inclusion is a belief that students with disabilities belong in the regular classroom. Full inclusion is the belief that special education segregation is done away with and those special educations students be fully immerse with the general populations at all times. Advocates of full inclusion are people who fully support the program. They believe that students should be educated in the general population regardless of their disability. The goal of inclusion is to assure that all children are educated in the same classrooms as non-disable peers. Unfortunately, most of the time, if the students are severely disabled; there might not be enough support services available to assist the child with learning, and or other issues. To me it is not about the impact it might have on the regular education child, but rather on the special education needs of the child. Sometimes it seems the disable students are not getting the kind of instruction, or help the individual needs so that in itself can become a problem. Young children, unlike adults, are free of prejudices. The young child is not judgmental; if the adult does not express hate or prejudice the young child is very accepting of special needs children. I believe that young children who are taught in a diverse setting learn early on in life that they are many individuals that are different than them and it is a very good experience for them to be familiar with because they might not experience it again. I strongly believe that by having the students learn about diversity, the students learn about kindness, empathy and respect for all students who are different; and as a result the students, in my opinion, well be understanding to the special education child. For example when I was working in the elementary setting I was in charge of a cerebral palsy boy at our elementary school. The child was in the class 100 % of the time because the district did not have a special education class teacher or rather the district felt that the two children we had in Encinal did not merit a full time Special Education teacher so they had the PT and OT come in from the special Co-Op and trained me and the regular education teacher on the basic essential to give the students the best help available. Both of the individuals parents refused to have their child bussed to Cotulla and they argued their view point that the district should provide the services not for the family to accommodate the districts "a way of saving money". By having the parents adamant on their wishes, the parents in a roundabout way provided the general students to experience a diverse way of learning more about life and acceptance than he/or she learned about reading, science and math. I do not believe that there is any degree of disability that would prevent a child from participating in the general population classroom. It is my understanding that it is all about support.

How is inclusion being used in schools? It has been my observation, that inclusion in school provides all students, regardless if their disable or not, the opportunity to learn, socialize and develop friends for life. It also provides a sense of belonging and appropriate behavior of social, behavioral, and academic skills. Having children experience diversity will promote acceptance of diversity. It also teaches children how to relate with others that are different from them. Keeping students that are different from each other is not only wrong, it is morally being offensive on the individual; it creates isolation, prejudices, sadness and feeling of hopelessness. For example if a non-disable child is given the opportunity to participate in a school played, it too should be offered to a disable child, it should be accessible to all children-disable and non-disabled. Participation should not be denied based on disability or any one characteristic. Children with disabilities have a right to go to the same schools and classes as their friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters. They have a right to be given equal opportunities.

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What are some of the techniques school districts used to help the special education students in being immerse in the regular education classrooms? School districts are using co-teaching, alternative teaching, peer groupings and technology support programs to help provide the special education students with the same benefits of learning. Currently, inclusion is a topic that many teachers feel that having a special education co-teacher is invading their space or taking over the class, when in fact that is not the purpose of inclusion. Co-teachers are in place to help the regular education teacher teach the class when half of the class is having trouble with the curriculum. The special education teachers works with the struggling group to help facilitate consensus. Alternative teaching is the process used when teaching is done through distance learning and communication via e-mails, blackboard, and peers interaction among emails. Peer groupings are also a method of peer to peer teaching, in other words it is the methodology of students learning from each other. Technology support programs are programs that are available to help the individual learning learn the material through interaction with an educational program that supports the material being taught by the teacher. In the progress of educating the students all students are encouraged to disregard differences among the students and treat all of their classmates the same. Inclusion has been in effect since school districts are integrating special education students with the regular students in a regular classroom setting. Many experts believe that inclusion will increase the individual's self-esteem and may increase their ability to interact with others including their peers.

Is it a moral and an ethical right to include inclusion if the parents oppose it? Since the NCLB became effective school district are required to have all of the students at grade level even the special education population. Students are being placed in the least restrictive environment as possible. Some school districts even have done away with content mastery classes and resource segregation. I have personally seen high school parents get upset when the school district no longer offer content mastery and their children would rather been in a "self contain classroom" by themselves; but district are required to placed students in the least restrictive environment and it seems that "school districts" are doing away with self-contain units that are not for Life skills learners. So therefore I ask, what is the purpose of having inclusion in place? The purpose of an inclusion class is to provide education for students with disabilities in a "least restrictive environment," as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Any student who has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is automatically placed in the special education class.

Is traditional method of teaching a positive approach in educating all of the students? This traditional approach restricts students with disabilities from becoming independent learners as they often depend upon their teacher for one to one teaching. In order for this method to have a positive impact on students it should be implemented along with other teaching techniques, thus giving the teachers and students opportunities for a successful learning environment. Students with special needs have an advantage in from this approach as they integrate in regular classroom setting. This is for all kinds of schools that work to integrate regular and special needs students (private or public, charter or non-charter). Many parents believe that inclusion is a great idea for everyone involved, as students who have disabilities learn new and multiple ways of communicating. Nonetheless, there are many that object to this practice because of their fears that special needs children in a "regular-education" classroom will be too distracting. The issue of inclusion and inclusive practices in education with respect to learners with disabilities is one of the most notorious arguments in the field of education. While there has been a general consensus towards full inclusion of all students with disabilities in Western countries such as Canada, researchers have found that inclusion and inclusive practices does not meet the ideal criteria. Furthermore, there is an ongoing debate whether inclusion best serves the interests of all students with emotional and behavior disorders. Some experts believe that inclusion may improve learning and academic performance for all students, whether disable or non-disable. It is with great interest that all individuals, regardless of their "handicap" get an opportunity to learn to accept individual differences and to overcome misinformation about people with disabilities. Suitable support services are available for students who are placed in general education classes, with teacher aides, peers to peers, high to low levels groupings and tutorials. Accordingly, students with disabilities must have an Individualized education programs given to teachers that will be interacting with the students. All teachers need to be well prepared to address all students with disabilities in accordance with their IEP's. The federal government provides funding to all school districts that educate students with disability.

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Are there some children for whom "inclusion" is inappropriate? Some teachers do not approve of students who are too loud, disruptive or not able to stay seated and listen quietly. Teachers fear that general education students will not be able to concentrate when the students with disabilities are included in the regular education classroom. There is a thin line between general and special education students. For instance some teachers are unable to properly control the classroom when they have a student that is a student and he/she constantly hit others; bites or just plain disrupts the classroom. Many teachers feel that they do not have the proper training of dealing with students that are exceptional. Some teachers have low or no expectations for students with disabilities. Some of the major objections of inclusion are: will the students benefit from being placed in the regular classroom? Inclusion is an approach that the courts and parents term because they want the best education practices to be given to children with disabilities.

What is the meaning for inclusion? Inclusion is another term for "mainstreaming," or integrating special education students with regular education classes. The main purpose of inclusion is for all children with disabilities attend a "normal" school and classroom, to be included to be treated as normal as possible. Give the students with disability the opportunity to live a normal life as possible or allowed. Parents find it a rewarding experience when their child with disability is treated the same as the regular students. I strongly believe that it gives children with special needs the chance to learn in a natural, exciting environment. Inclusion teaches individuals the ability to create friendships with non-handicapped peers, provides positive role models, and lead to acceptance in the community. In addition, children without disabilities may benefit by learning about differences between people and having the occasion of assisting others. Teachers appreciates the differences and by learning new methods for teaching and or instruction. Furthermore, inclusion has a long history of segregation in the field of special education and disabilities. For many years, individuals with disabilities did not have access to public schools, facilities, and independent housing. Special education individuals have benefited from being included in public schools and independent living. However, after 10 years of implementation, inclusion has not yet been fully accepted. Because inclusion is a philosophy about how children should be educated, it is sometimes not well planned with the needs of the disable child or the preferences of what the parents want for their child. Sometimes the setting where the child is educated does not make instruction effective. Rather, it is the content and method of instruction that the teacher uses that makes or breaks the improvement in the child's language, social skills, and other behaviors. In some instances public schools are unable to provide the specialized education required for children with autism, especially those with the most severe language and behavior disorders. It is unrealistic to expect that regular education teachers will have the specific training required or the ability to provide the best possible education for this population of autism. In addition, children with special needs are sometimes assigned one-to-one aides who have little training or experience in autism or other developmental disabilities. Even with (OT) Occupational Therapist and (PT)

Physical Therapist specialists being hired to train the regular teacher and the teacher aide cannot always provide the intensive, focused, constant instruction these children require throughout the entire school day. Although schools districts are mandated to include all children with disability, it is not uncommon that some school districts re-create special "units" in order to offer the child with the appropriate education setting to deal with the child's behavior problems within the regular classroom. Age and grade-appropriate placement is the most controversial factor of inclusion because it is based on ideals, values, and goals that are not congruent with the realities of today's classrooms. Advocates of full inclusion presume that the general education teacher can accommodate all students with disabilities, even those with severe and multiple disabilities. They assume that such students can obtain educational and social benefits from that placement. Those who oppose full inclusion argue that, although methods of collaborative learning and group instruction are the preferred methods, the traditional classroom size and resources are often inadequate for the management and accommodation of many students with disabilities without producing adverse effects on the classroom as a whole. Some special education experts, however, believe that some students are unlikely to receive appropriate education without placement into alternative instructional groups or alternative learning environments, such as part-time or full-time special classes or alternative day schools.

What about students who are gifted and talented should these students is placed in a segregated environment? Should children with specific kinds of disabilities or giftedness be served in a resource room or other kind of classroom placement? According to the definition from the website www.ed.gov. the Law of PL 101-476, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), claim that special education students have got to be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE), as determined by assessments and the individualized education program (IEP). Representatives or advocates of full inclusion believe that all children should be in regular classrooms. These support groups of people believe that all students benefit from being placed in the same classroom as non-disable peers; will help individuals who oppose of interacting disable and non-disable peers togetherness will overcome prejudice stereotyping. In my opinion, inclusion is not always the best choice for every special needs student. There are other options available such as specialized, separate day schools for children with autism, mental retardation and any other impairment. Full inclusion should be done on case by case bases.

What should parents do when considering different options for their child? First, inclusion should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Parents need to consider the needs of their own child, the capacity of the school to meet these needs, and their own preferences. For example, the parents of children at May Institute's day school in West Springfield are aware that their son or daughter has fewer opportunities to interact with typical children. On the other hand, they know their child is getting an educational program that is more specialized and intensive than their child could get in the public school. Parents should investigate whether the program they are considering be in the best interest of their child. Inclusion or a special setting model - are in place. Thus the following components are to be considered:

What is the language-based curriculum?

Is the curriculum consistent and will it addresses all the students' needs at child's pace?

What are the instructional techniques? Are they based upon research: including a strong focus on positive reinforcement, shaping behavior, prompting learning, and becoming more independent?

Is there an opportunities for the child to respond to instruction?

How time is allotted for the child to engage in instruction

Is the teacher keeping a daily log of academic work and behavior problems?

How frequently do you review the progress and is there a timely change in procedures if progress is not occurring.

In order for full inclusion to be successful curriculum changes must happen and teaching methods much change as well, for inclusion to be a successful program. Others argue that students with disabilities are not fully incorporated into the regular classroom they are just given "water down" assignments. That is not the process of inclusion, inclusion is to be used in concurrent with course program, and in emphasis the curriculum is to be used the same just taught in a different manner or used diverse methods of teaching them along with the course. Collaboration is an essential role in the day-to-day routine of the special educator. In order to provide a well-rounded education to students with disabilities, the special educator must collaborate with various individuals both inside and outside the school environment. For example, the special educator must collaborate with the student with disabilities family and parents. Further, the special educator must collaborate with such colleagues as physical education, music, art and other co-curricular activities. If inclusion is used in any manner, the special education teacher must collaborate with the regular classroom teachers in order to find areas within the general curriculum where the student with disabilities can participate .More so with technology these days teacher should use it to support the student's needs.

Should 1st year teachers be trained to teach special education students? University are requiring teachers to take special education classes because universities know that special education students well at sometimes in their educations will be placed in a regular classroom setting. Since IDEA came into effect universities and alternative programs are being told that teachers must be educated in special education classes in order to be prepared for special needs students be placed in the least restrictive environment as possible. Texas Education Agency has a requirement that all teachers be provided with in-service and or staff development training throughout their teaching experiences in the form them to be informed of all the laws that pertain to teaching all students. The idea for this is to offer teachers the necessary tools to help them increase their sense of self efficacy. The staff development trainings should include information about disability and effective instructional techniques for all students. Such trainings should help teachers in their confidence and creative positive attitudes toward inclusion.

What about technology and inclusion? How does this technological are affect the special education populations? Across the United State and in many other countries, the percentage of special needs students is increasing. As educational professionals teachers who are required by law to make provide accommodations to all special needs students in all levels of schools ranging from K-12 level, these accommodations must take place as part of a student's IEP (Individual Education Plan). All educators must be able to adapt, make accommodations, or adjust the educational material to help provide the least restrictive educational settings for all students regardless of being disable or non-disabled. Due to the growth of students being classified as special needs students, assistive educational technology in schools is also growing in importance. Special needs students are now becoming the majority among the school districts populations. Since IDEA has been in place, the percentage of students with disabilities served in the United States of America schools and districts has gradually increased to be taught with their non-disabled peers.

 

Conclusion

In summary, I believe that in order for a teacher to be successful in the inclusion program he/she must have a diverse knowledge on the type of students they are going to be offering their services to. In addition, educators, administrators and parents need to have an opened communication system in order for them to express themselves verbally and non-verbally in a manner that is comprehendible to all levels of interaction among the groups. Communication should also include the use of technology. Technology should be used as support system for students with special needs and not be view as single entity. It is very imperative that an effective teacher have a witty disposition, able to think on his/her feet, be able to speak in a clear concise way without ridiculing the students. As educators we must have respect for all students learner and be able to communicate effectively with staff, parents, guardians, grandparents or any other person in charge of a child. Human relationships is there in every cultural, regardless of the individuals background, it is in reality in our best circumstances to accept diversity and in the long run accept that relationships can be productive and complicated. But as long as humans are in existence interactions among human can and are very complex and will affect the outcome of one's destiny. Public schools are unable to provide the specialized education required for children with disability, especially those with the most severe language and behavior disorders. It is unfair to expect that regular education teachers will always have the specific training required for these special needs students. In addition, children with special needs are sometimes assigned one-to-one aides who have little training or experience in autism or other developmental disabilities. Even with consultation from specialists, a regular school setting cannot always provide the intensive, focused, constant instruction these children require throughout the entire school day. Although schools may have a mandate to include all children, it is not uncommon that some eventually re-create special classrooms because the children did not receive the appropriate education or their behavior problems could not be addressed within the regular classroom. I cannot recall who actually said this but "Inclusion is a right, not a special privilege for a select few." It is like the same saying that "Education is a right and a privilege for all to be educated".