Mainstreaming and inclusion are very controversial subjects in the world of education, yet both are a milestone which we have reached for all special needs children. After researching the history of handicapped and special needs children, I have a stronger outlook on the subject matter. As a teacher in training, I feel that all children must feel comfortable, safe, and free in order to grow and to discover. Mainstreaming or inclusion can achieve such a feat for most special needs children today. Yet, as always, there are some exceptions.
First of all, I must explain the history of mainstreaming, and the leaps and bounds our great nation has over come to arrive at a place of understanding our future citizen’s needs. In the early twentieth century our national, state, and local governments’ funded the outburst of institutions and hospitals for the mentally ill, and for the physically disabled. The increasing admissions had resulted in major overcrowding, credit partly due to the Eugenics movement. Funding was often cut, especially during periods of economic decline, and during wartime. Most institutions became notorious for poor living conditions, lack of hygiene, overcrowding, ill-treatment, and abused patients.  Most family members were so shamed to have a son, daughter, brother, or sister to have such an illness, and they shunned the “imbecile” away from their home. Out of sight, and out of society. Most patients were left to decay, and forget.
Subsequent to War World II, many individual and parent-organized advocacy groups formed such as, American Association on Mental Deficiency, United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and John F. Kennedy’s Panel on Mental Retardation. Americans were forming a voice as the civil rights movement helped pave the way. This movement called for the monumental event, the Public Law 94-142 on December 29, 1975 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act). The congressionally approved act established a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to students with a wide range of disabilities, including physical handicaps, mental retardation, speech, vision and language problems, emotional and behavioral problems, and other learning disorders.  Segregated special education classes were introduced into public school systems and remained for over 35 years. Throughout that hat time period, laws have been extended to accomplish nondiscriminatory treatment for all children who deal with special needs. Most recent, in 1997 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and in 2004 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were amended.
Following this further, both the ADA and IDEA have a main principle in common which is to achieve a “least restrictive environment” (LRE). This principle has called for the practice of mainstreaming and inclusion style classrooms which have cause much debate. The term mainstreaming is a practice of placing special needs...