Students with Disabilities Must be Included in Public Schools
Billy is physically handicapped and goes to school on a bus that has to pick him up quite early, for he has to go to school an hour away from his home. When Billy is at school, he gets to be in classes with all sorts of children; some are in wheelchairs, like he is, but they are unable to move by themselves, and some can walk, but Billy has a hard time talking to some of those children because they are developmentally younger than he is. All his classmates are his friends, but they never come over to play after school because he lives so far away, and Billy does not have a lot in common with them. Billy likes to play basketball in his driveway and he loves to talk about the latest pop music. There is a school about four blocks away from his house, but professionals in the school system have recommended that Billy not be included in regular classrooms. People who know Billy well would describe him as funny, friendly, smart, and athletic. People who are in charge of making sure Billy has the kind of education he deserves would describe him as having cerebral palsy, conductive hearing loss, and mild dyslexia. Were Billy included in the regular classroom at the school four blocks away, he would be known for who he is and not what he has; I believe the quality of his life would come rightfully before the quantity of adaptations he requires. Inclusion is realistic and necessary, and public schools should implement it as the next logical step in the process of helping students with disabilities.
The basic building blocks for inclusion are bringing necessary support services to the student, being in the regular classroom, and being at a nearby school. These things are not rare, and the children who are not in need of special education expect them to be in place. The common argument against inclusion comes from the regular classroom teacher because he or she usually feels that it takes extra time and energy to teach handicapped children alongside typical children. These teachers often lack confidence in their qualifications; therefore, they feel as though they would not be able to teach handicapped children without special training. The purpose behind inclusion is to keep the regular classroom, regular. This means that teachers would have no extra work. Any needed support services are brought to the special needs learner (often in the form of a resource teacher), so class can go as usual, and students like Billy will get extra help from a professional as needed.
In the past, segregation was the new and controversial topic in special education. This was the change from institutionalization to public school attendance. Unfortunately, the children still ended up in self-contained classrooms. Norm Kunc, an advocate and researcher of inclusion, humorously terms this type of learning atmosphere "Retarded Immersion," where students are not motivated because they do not have the opportunity...