The education system in our country was put in place in order to do service to our children. Despite this, in many cases, children that have disabilities are neglected by their schools. As a society, we all want to make sure that these children are being taken care of. However, there is a large spectrum of students with disabilities, and more needs to be done in order to meet every individual’s needs. In some cases, they do not receive enough attention, and others receive so much that it holds them back from succeeding on their own. Generally speaking, students with special needs benefit from integration into general education classrooms when it is handled appropriately; however in many cases, students are still being short-changed. Integrating students with special needs into a general education classroom has many advantages, both social and academic. For example, all students are required to receive and be tested on common core information, regardless of academic status. Julie Verdonik, an administrator at Maple Grove Jr. Sr. High School who is the head of the Special Education department , says if the students are not able to participate in the general education class, it is much more likely that they will not be taught all of the information that they are responsible for knowing. Special education classrooms slow down the pace of learning, and in many cases, this can actually be detrimental to the student (Verdonik). Verdonik also says, “When high expectations are set, generally the students are able to meet them.” Any students that are capable of handling the common-core curriculum should be given the opportunity to do so. Not only is the challenging curriculum good for them, but interacting with their peers is very beneficial as well. When asked if integration was socially beneficial for students with special needs Verdonik responded, “It is always beneficial to have students interacting together.” As a general rule, when students interact with each other, social skills are improved. This is no different for students with special needs. There are other life skills that are taught in a general education classroom that are important for these students too. They are taught the importance of meeting due dates, to listen to and respect a boss or a teacher, and how to handle challenges and frustrations that arise in daily life (Verdonik). By teaching these students important life skills, we are doing them a service that will stay with them their whole life. When integration is implemented appropriately, it is highly successful.
There are specific requirements for children who are in need of special attention. They are not just left to cope with a challenging work environment. The government mandates that each eligible student receives an IEP or 504 plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, that will help them as they go through school (Koch). These plans are created on an individualized basis, and can include the implementing of a variety of practices to best help the student (NCLD). Different testing accommodations or formats can be assigned, as well as different classroom times or activities such as remedial classes and aides, or “study buddies” (“What is a 504 plan?”). Smaller, but equally significant, actions can be taken too, such as requiring that a student have access to a computer for every writing assignment, or that someone gives them a “backpack check” to make sure they have all of the right homework (“What is a 504 plan?”). All of these individualized requirements, added to integration, have a very strong and successful impact on the education of special needs students.
There have been a number of success stories in our nation’s history when it comes to the education of special needs students. One in particular, told by Kathy Koch in her article entitled, “Do Students With Disabilities Get the Help They Need?” is the story of a young girl named Rose who...
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