What is Inclusion?
By Jennifer Leonard
== Introduction ==
It is the middle of June and the popular kids from school decide they are all going to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. They planned their trip very well and had an excellent day riding roller coasters and playing in the water park. Their trip sounded like a lot of fun, but Megan spent her whole day sitting by the sprinkler in her back yard. She was not invited and was therefore excluded from the fun day the other kids had planned.
Defined by Colleen Tomko from Kids Together Incorporated, inclusion is âbeing part of what everyone else is; being welcomed and embraced as a member who belongsâ (Tomko, 1996). When the popular kids went to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, they did not include Megan. This exclusion most likely made Megan feel left out or depressed. Kids Together Inc. has determined that âfeelings of loneliness and alienation can have a negative impact in all areas of lifeâ and that âinclusion should focus on maximizing a personâs overall quality of lifeâ (Tomko, 1996).
== Inclusion in the ClassroomAfter gaining an understanding of the term inclusion, one may ask how this can be used in a classroom. âIn special education literature, inclusion refers to providing services to special education students with a regular classroom setting to the extent possible rather than pulling them out for remediation in a special classroom settingâ (Clark & Breman, 2009). In other words, including those with special needs in regular, age-appropriate, classrooms with their peers. ==
Historical background, provided by Issues about Change, a quarterly produced magazine from Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), dates back to the early 1800s. âResidential institutions, or asylums, began to emerge in order to accommodate those with hearing, visual, mental, or emotional impairmentsâ (Thompkins & Deloney, 1995). Prior to the 1800s, there was not any form of education for those students with special needs or disabilities. In the mid-1990âs, parents of the disabled students began expressing their concerns about what was to become of the education and overall lives of their children.
The result of these actions led to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. Under this act, âall children, regardless of disability, had the right to a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.â This Act was updated in 1991 by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA (Thompkins & Deloney, 1995). âFurthermore, a recent legislation, the NCLB Act of 2001, which is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, also provides the legal foundation for schools to improve educational outcomes for all studentsâ (Clark & Breman, 2009). Below you can see some statistical information on the percentage of children with disabilities included in regular classrooms and how the percentages have changed throughout the years. Keep in mind that these numbers are forever changing: âthere has been an increase of students identified with disabilities and an estimated 6.6 million children who receive special education services in 2004 under federal law, which is up from 3.7 million in 1977â (Clark & Breman, 2009).
Inclusion does not only consist of preparing the special education students for regular classes, but also preparing regular classes for students with disabilities. According to Dr. Watnick and Dr. Sacks, âmodification of the classroom environment must be done so that all students can receive the maximum education services.â They claim that âa successful inclusive service delivery model should expose all special education students to age-appropriate curricula as well as provides more natural social interaction with general education peersâ (Watnick & Sacks, 2006). As a result, it is also hoped that âthe bias against children with disabilities will decrease due to their interaction with other students their ageâ (Spring, 2008).
== Is everyone for Inclusion in the classrooms?Is inclusion really beneficial for all students in the classroom? Inclusion has been a conflicting topic in education since the laws for those qualifying for special education began to develop in the 1800s. Many educators and parents want students with disabilities to have the best and most un-restrictive education possible; while some fear it may affect the way the other students learn. ==
In 1994, the president of the Florida Education Associated United publically spoke out about his beliefs of how âinclusion leaves classroom teachers without the resources, training, and other supports necessary to teach students with disabilities in their classrooms.â As a result, âthe disabled children are not getting the appropriate, specialized attention and care, and regular studentsâ education is disrupted constantly" (Thompkins & Deloney, 1995).
That very same year, a poll was conducted by the American Federations of Teachers in West Virginia. The poll revealed that 78 percent of the respondents thought that disabled students would not benefit from inclusion and 87 percent said other students would not benefit either (Leo, 1994). With these percentages, one can see why inclusion remains a conflicting topic in our education today.
== ConclusionAfter researching inclusion, it is clear that there is not just one way to look at this situation in education. Teachers, parents, and government agencies all look at inclusion through different eyes and standards. It is not an âI like itâ or âI hate itâ scenario, but a starting point towards further advancement in education of the disabled and regular academic leveled students. As with any policy, there are conflicting theories that can yield society for or against something, but with inclusion it is different. Almost all can agree that no one wants the special education students to be institutionalized, but at the same time, not everyone wants them in regular academic classes with their non-disabled peers. The policy of inclusion will continue to be argued while researchers gather the statistics needs to prove or disprove its accuracy. Until it is proven, attempts will continue to âhelp teach all children team work and how to interrelate and function together with others of different abilitiesâ (Tomko, 1996). ==
== Do you know...?Please select only one answer for each question: ==
1. Which historical piece of legislature is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965?
A. Education of All Handicapped Children Act
B. Individuals with Disabilities Act
C. No Child Left Behind Act
D. Upgraded Education Act
2. Based on the definitions in the reading, where is someone likely to see the implementation of inclusion?
A. In schools, workplaces, churches, etc.
B. Only at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA
C. Only in churches
D. Only in schools
3. Which Act is the direct result of parents of disabled students uniting to better the education and quality of life for their children?
A. Better Our Childrenâs Lives Act
B. Education of All Handicapped Children Act
C. Individuals with Disabilities Act
D. No Child Left Behind Act
4. After reading about how inclusion can and is used in the classroom, who will most likely be affected?
A. General education students
B. Students with disabilities
C. Teachers and administrators
D. All of the above
== ReferencesClark, M, A., & Breman, J, C. (2009). School counselor inclusion: a collaborative model to provide academic and social-emotional support in the classroom setting. Journal of Counseling & Development. 87, 6-11. ==
Leo, J. (1994, June 27). Mainstreamingâs âJimmy problem.â U.S. News & World Report, p. 22.
Spring, J (2008). American Education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Thompkins, R, & Deloney, P (1995). Inclusion: The pros and cons. Issues about Change, 4, Retrieved February 4, 2009, from www.sedl.org/change/issues/isuues43.html.
Tomko, C (1996). What is inclusion? Retrieved February 4, 2009, from Kids Together Inc Web site: www.kidstogether.org/inclusion.htm
Watnick, Dr. B., & Sacks, Dr. A. (2006). A snapshot of teacher perception on full inclusion in an international urban community: Miami-Dade County, Florida. The Journal of the International Association of Special Education. 7, 67-74.
== Answers1. C ==