If one looks at the word “Inclusion”, its definition states that the word means being a part of something or the feeling of being part of a whole. By looking at this term, one gets a sense about what inclusion education is all about (Karten p. 2). Inclusion education is the mainstreaming of Special Education students into a regular classroom (Harchik). A school that involves inclusive education makes a commitment to educate each and every student to their highest potential by whatever means necessary (Stout). Their goal is for all children, disabled or not, to be able to attend a typical classroom.
Legally, Inclusion is defined by Public Law 94-142 from 1975. This law, known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, does not contain the term “inclusion”, however, it describes the term “Least Restrictive Environment” which means that a handicapped child must be placed in a classroom that can meet their needs but is as close to a regular classroom as possible (Villa p. 4). IDEA states that:
“to the maximum extent appropriate, handicapped children, including those children in public and private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not handicapped, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of handicapped children from regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the handicap is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (P.L 94-142, Section 1412) (Villa p. 5).
This part of the law does explain that even though it is the goal of the school to try and include handicapped children in regular classrooms, it is not always possible if the nature of a child’s handicap is more severe.
Inclusion is a somewhat controversial issue because it not only relates to education and school values but also and individuals sense of worth (Stout). Inclusion is not without its upside and downside. Although the idea of inclusion may sound good, when implemented it sometimes has problems. Many children have benefited from inclusion; however, it sometimes does not live up to its promise to educate handicapped children to full potential. For inclusion to work properly there is some need for restructuring in the schools (Villa p. 9). Inclusion is not always the best possible choice for a special needs student. Public schools are sometimes unable to provide for the needs of the student where specialized education is involved (Harchik).
Many supporters of inclusion assume that regular education teachers are able to accommodate students that are handicapped (Teacher Vision). Sometimes, regular classroom teachers are not capable to provide for the needs of the handicapped child. They do not always have the training required to teach a handicapped child (Harchik). Although the instruction may be appropriate for special education, the size and resources of a regular education classroom may...