The Effects Of Inclusion On Mainstream Education

1538 words - 6 pages

In 1993 a woman by the name of Dee Begg filed a lawsuit against the school district office of Baltimore County, Maryland. She wanted her son Sean, a developmentally challenged eight-year-old boy suffering from Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome, to be able to attend a public school with normal children. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person is born with forty-seven chromosomes instead of the usual forty-six causing both physical and mental handicaps. Children suffering from Down syndrome will often have a smaller than usual and abnormally shaped head. An abnormally large forehead, with their eyes slanting upward, small ears and mouth are just a few of the telltale signs. Children suffering from this disorder exhibit impulsive behavior, poor judgment, a shortened attention span, and slow learning. The average IQ of children suffering from Down syndrome is fifty, compared to normal children who’s IQ averages around one hundred. At the time, children with learning disabilities attended special schools with the specific purpose of teaching kids with special educational needs. Dee felt that by schools not allowing her son to attend, they were discriminating against him due to his condition. Dee took her lawsuit all the way up to the federal department of civil rights and had the current laws governing the placement of developmentally challenged children overturned. This made allowing children with learning disabilities to be included in mainstream education systems a requirement. The term coined for this process is know as inclusion.
Following the verdict, Sean was immediately uprooted from his special education classroom of likeminded peers at Ridge school (present day Ridge Ruxton) and placed in a fist grade classroom alongside perfectly normal children his own age at Sparks Elementary, more than twelve miles away. Sean was removed from his friends and became a controversial outcast among normal children who were not like him. He became isolated and withdrawn occasionally lashing out at the other children with mild to moderate violence. The parents of the other children became concerned as to the effect having a child with special needs such as Sean in the same class as their kids, would have on their education and safety.
At Ridge, Sean had the benefit of being educated by teachers who had chosen to teach mentally challenged children and had been specially trained to do so. The textbooks were specially written to coincide with a curriculum specifically designed and proven to teach developmentally challenged children. Not being the only child with a learning disability in the classroom provided an environment with less tension and a feeling of community and connection. The children at Ridge were also taught life skills that would benefit them later when living more independent lives. Specific skills such as stocking shelves at a grocery store, or taking orders at “McDonalds.” Sean’s mother, Dee, argued that this training...

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