Connecting the Past, Present and Future Needs in the Field
Special education today has the same meaning, in addition to new trends and critical issues the governed program encounters. The gratis designed instruction provides educational support to qualifying students who have special learning needs. Other individualities of students impinge on their lives in significant ways. For example, “gender has both obvious and subtle influences on the way students develop. Racial/ethnic background can involve rich cultural traditions and patterns of relationships within families and communities that can generate important differences in values, perspectives, expectations, and practices.” (Wager, Cameto, & Guzman, 2007).
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has identified several critical issues that are facing special education today. The issues discussed in relation to the research and interview conducted will explain the imperative needs in the special education field. Essential concepts consisting of classification and inclusion are incorporated in special education.
Special Education in the Past
In the late 60’s, special education was built around the handicapped children facing segregation and discrimination from general classroom settings in the public schools. Their handicaps excluded them from school, which forced parents to confront their legislators about their children’s Civil Rights. The parents knew that this was a violation, so eventually the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) was passed. “This law was created in an effort to provide an appropriate education for the millions of children with disabilities that were not receiving a proper education. PL 94-142 encouraged states to create policies and practices”. (Special Education Legislation: A Synopsis of Federal and State Policies, 2011)
The legal system continued to work assertively creating programs in the public schools. These programs included self-contained, resource, inclusion, and co-teaching classroom environments. With the continuous support of laws, special needs students could depend on a fair education.
Special Education Experience in Schools Today
After interviewing Suzanne Henry, a Gwinnett County Public School Lead Special Education Teacher, she referenced to several important trends in schools today. Those trends are inclusion, practices, RTI and paperwork. All four trends were discussed in great details explaining the impact the trends have on pedagogy and best practices in the classroom.
Inclusion and Practices
Inclusion is one of the trends and examples of how special education is experienced in schools today. During the interview, Suzanne explained how she continues to see inclusion being a learning success for non-classified and classified students. For example, teachers are more prone to breaking instructions into smaller parts and/or repeating directions if a student in the classroom has a disability of some kind. According to Shapiro (2000),"Youngsters will not learn in segregated settings how to function in a non-disabled world. In a school or class for youngsters classified as emotionally disturbed, the normal thing is to be disturbed.” “Similarly, many times youngsters classified as communication-handicapped are placed in segregated settings with other children who do not communicate." (Shapiro, 2000).
Suzanne went on to express her thoughts about inclusion settings. All students are learning together academically and socially whether they are general or special education students. On the social aspect part, students with disabilities develop friendships with others in school also in their community surroundings. When parents of SWDs see how effective the inclusive model can be, parent participation improves.