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Segregation Or Integration? Society’s Conflict Regarding Disabled Children

906 words - 4 pages

Hubbell 1Kristin HubbellRyan ChengENC 1101.11414 October 2011Segregation or Integration? Society's Conflict Regarding Disabled ChildrenSixty five years ago education for all populations was not required in America. Although an emphasis was placed on the so called normal child's education, educators, doctors, and parents did not know what to do when it came to a child whose physical, mental, or emotional state required extra attention. The answer was asylums. Children deemed "unfit," "defective," and "retarded," by society's standards were placed in asylums where they received a special education as well as special treatments designed to rid the child of their ailments (Cutolo 24). Although these practices are considered barbaric by today's standards, they make one rethink the relationship between education and the disabled child. Are handicapped children receiving a quality education similar to their non-disabled peers? An examination of educational journals written during the past twenty years addresses this question as well as offers insight for the future education of this special group.The concept of special education was born shortly after the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed. This law requires that each state support education for all students, regardless of the mental or physical ability that a child may or may not possess. Although this law was a major step toward the education of the disabled, the law fails to mention how a state should educate handicapped youngsters. Thus, the debate as to whether it is more beneficial to put a mentally challenged child in a classroom with non-disabled peers or to keep the mentally challenged in a separate group continues. Jerome Kagan and Susan B. Gall, authors of The Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence, argue that these special children should be "mainstreamed" with regular children as much as possible. They believe that:Special-needs students [should] be educated to the maximum extent appropriate alongside children who are not disabled…as special-needs children tend to become depressed, suffer from lower self-esteem, and are less likely to develop the ability to interact with others if they are segregated in separate classrooms. (Gall 2)However, John Cawley, Harris Kahn, and Angelo Tedesco, authors of the scholarly journal Vocational Education and Students with Learning Disabilities, argue a different approach. These educators believe that it is more beneficial for a child to be placed with children of similar ability and to follow an education plan fitted for the group. They also believe that it eases the instructor's role to place children of similar ability in the same class, as the teacher would not have to worry about gifted students being bored or learning disabled being behind the rest of the class and frustrated. According to these authors, a handicapped child would also feel more comfortable speaking to a...

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