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Why Inclusion is the Best Option for Education Today

By Julie-Oros Oct 22, 2014 3625 Words
Why Inclusion is the Best Option for Education Today Audience Analysis The audience for this essay will be primarily public school faculty, developmental psychologists, and parents of students in either special or general education classrooms and students in special education classrooms who believe that segregation is the best option for education. My audience is well educated and/or highly involved in education and the differences between inclusion and segregation. My audience has obtained at least a Bachelors degree and is part of the middle to upper socioeconomic class. Race is not significant in the audience. My audiences age ranges anywhere from thirty to fifty years old. My audience and I disagree on the best option for education because of the positives and negatives for both inclusion and segregation. I want my audience to consider all sides of the debate on the best way to educate students with mental illness when taking a stance. I should address my audience casually and appeal to their emotions, values, and sense of ethics. My essay should appear in an online journal or debate on methods of education. The main purpose of special education programs in school systems is to provide tools and services to students with disabilities so that they can achieve at the same caliber as students in the general classroom. The issues arise when this special education system fails to provide for every range of disabled students. The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) breaks special education up into five categories to place qualifying students into the appropriate classrooms. One of these categories is emotional and/or behavioral impairment, which according to the National Health Interview Survey, only affects an estimated 9-13 of children and adolescents in the United States ( Furthermore, a research study on students with disabilities who drop out of school stated that, of those who do not complete high school, about 36 are students with learning disabilities and 59 are students with emotional/behavioral disabilities (Blackorby Wagner, 1996). It has become evident that the manner in which we conduct special education programs in todays school systems fails to provide for the entire range of the disability spectrum. When special education was introduced into the public school system in 1965, the future of education seemed very bright. Title VI opened the door for students with disabilities to be educated in public schools. The main issue with the original design of the special education curriculum was that it was only tailored to provide for students with physical, communication, and developmental disabilities, which excluded students with mental illnesses and impairments. However the most recent changes in special education, the IDEA reauthorization of 2004, had one major objective, to provide instruction and intervention for students to help keep them out of the special education classroom. This startling turnaround of the intentions of the special education system has people questioning if special education is really a viable option for certain categories of special education that students are placed in today. The groundwork of actually incorporating special education into school systems really began with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) of 1975 that mandated all school districts throughout the United States to educate students with disabilities. The EAHCA paved the way for all children, regardless of disabilities and impairments, to be educated in schools like their peers in general classrooms. However, the struggle for students placed in special education classrooms to become a verified part of the school systems continued until the individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 was implemented. For example, according to the article, Special Education The Forgotten Issue in No Child Left Behind Reform by Joshua Bleiberg and Darrell M. West, before the IDEA was put into effect, The education system did not value students with disabilities because their success or failure was not counted,( The IDEA made it a requirement for special and general education students alike to be included in state and district-wide assessments. Additionally, students in the special education classroom that were mistakenly placed there were given the chance to prove themselves. The Twentieth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2000) reported that, among adolescents 14 years old and older in special education, over 63,000 or roughly 3 to 4 of the population returned to regular education in the 1995-96 school year( Students from special education classrooms who proved themselves capable of passing state and district-wide assessments that earned the right to be a part of general education classrooms struggled with adjusting into the general classroom at a slow rate in the beginning, but then students began to adapt better after the enactment of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. The article, What No Child Left Behind Did and Didnt Do by Jay Mathews of the New York Times stated that, several studies have noted that student achievement, particularly as measured by state assessment systems, appears to have improved both overall and for key subgroups such as those of transition students since the implementation of NCLB,(Center on Education Policy 2008b). With the help of the NCLB Act, students that transitioned from special to general education classrooms were pushed to come close and in some cases reach the performance level of the rest of the students in the general classroom. For instance, a statistical evaluation of the trends in performance of special education students conducted for the National Center on Educational Outcomes by John Beilinski and James E. Ysseldyke of the University of Minnesota, shows that, In each grade, students leaving special education were the highest performing students, with a performance level fairly close to the regular education group.( These statistics prove that students who remained in general classrooms achieve higher test scores on standardized tests than those who repeatedly transferred between special and general classrooms. Over the years, there has been much controversy over segregation versus inclusion of certain students placed in special education classrooms. The reason for the ongoing dispute can be attributed to the broad and often vague classification of what qualifies as a disability for students in the classroom. For example, one of the eligible categories for special education, emotional impairments, is formatted for students who have a wide range of emotional to behavioral disturbances, but often serves as a miscellaneous and generalized group for difficult students. The issue with special education programs is that most recently, these programs have become an easy way out for dealing with students that have differences and disadvantages that temporarily impede upon their ability to preform in the classroom but are different from actual disabilities. Our school systems have become ignorant to the fact that these programs have been specifically configured to aid students with serious learning disabilities that often affect students both mentally and physically, and not to babysit students who do not blend into the general classroom for reasons that have little affect on their actual ability to learn and retain knowledge in the classroom. Furthermore, a large portion of teachers and administrators believe that the one on one special education environment is necessity for some students in order to be able to succeed in the classroom. In some cases specifically, being around those students who are considered normal can hinder the ability of other students to focus and grasp concepts being taught. For example, in a case study about the effects of some challenges special education students encounter when it comes to learning, conducted primarily by Jenifer Harr-Robins of the Department of Special Education, San Francisco University, stated that, Less one-on-one attention from teachers may lead to a decline in the childs progress due to the distractive and potentially stressful atmosphere, ( Although these findings may be true, in most cases those students with difficulties focusing, who are transitioned can solve these difficulties with prescribed medication that promote the ability to focus as research conducted by Richard Scheffler, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health explains in an article on long-term academic improvement of children with learning disabilities, Our study shows that there is a true, long-term effect in the childrens academic progress that can be measured objectively through examining standardized math and reading scores Scheffler continues on to emphasis that, Drugs are not the answer by themselves, however it is clear that our research shows improvements in the classroom.( This study not only shows that specific medications can act as an aid for transitioned students in the general classroom by helping to maintain focus during the school day but such medications can even possibly improve the student ability to learn in the long run. One of the major issues with mainstreaming education regards the fact that sometimes students ailments require special treatment that in most cases is only suitable in individual settings. Teachers have found that often times general classrooms do not have the specialized accessibilities required to enable students with disabilities to learn. In addition to lacking the resources in the classroom itself, time and time again students suffer because general education teachers are only taught the basic foundations of special education, or are not confident in their ability to teach students with special needs and struggle along side students in the classroom. Ann Turnbull, a special education teacher from the Virginia Department of Education points out in her article, Special Education Inclusion Programs The Pros and Cons, that Students with special needs may not get their needs met as extensively as they might in a segregated classroom because teachers lack additional training for working with students with special needs( Most teachers do not have the specific skill set to properly handle and teach transitioned students in a way that caters to their specific disabilities. The fact that not all general education teachers are completely prepared to teach in a classroom with transitioned students and may have concerns about the time and effort required to meet the needs of students with disabilities may be a good point, however, the majority of students being transitioned into the general classroom have been diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disabilities according to a research study by H. Stephen Kaye titled Education of Children with Disabilities, statistics show that, 72.6 percent of students with serious emotional disturbances and/or behavioral impairments in general classrooms leave secondary school as high school graduates,( Thus verifying that a large portion of transitioned students do not require special accommodations in the general classroom and do not require extensive assistance because as stated in Kayes study, Children with behavioral disorders do not necessarily have learning disabilities,(Weinberg et al., 1995). Moreover, students with disabilities and impairments need special attention in the classroom in order to be able to comprehend the material being taught. For instance, students aliments can affect the learning process and demand additional time and attention with topics of material. If special education students are mainstreamed into general education classrooms, the pace of learning in the classroom can be interrupted by the demands of the transitioned students and put the entire class at a greater risk of falling behind. In an article on mainstreaming special education by Robert Tomsho of The Simons Foundation, The special-education debate --- is mainstreaming good or bad for kids, the story of a girl with autism named Valerie, who had tried the mainstreaming approach but did not benefit from it for a few reasons, the most prominent being hysterical tantrums that interrupted the entire class. Her teachers reported that She did not learn anything that year, that she in fact regressed, from being placed in the mainstreaming program, ( Special education classrooms provide students with disabilities the individual attention and environment required for them to succeed in the classroom. The reasons for Valeries regression, are understandable however, on the other hand, in a debate on the advantages and disadvantages of mainstreaming special education children presented by Demand Media, psychologist Barbra A. Schaefer of the Penn State School of Psychology stated that, One of the main advantages of mainstreaming children with special needs is that it allows them to be in a more natural environment than self-contained classrooms do. Being in a regular classroom provides opportunities for children with special needs to learn important life skills, especially those involving socialization, Schaefer later adds that, Mainstreaming prepares non-disabled students for the real world as well by teaching them about diversity and helping them develop empathy( Mainstreaming is beneficial to both special and general education students in many different ways. Special education methods in school systems are becoming more and more flawed as innovation takes over modern society. Special education is no longer the best option for certain students, specifically those with emotional and behavioral impairments. Special education has become accustomed in public schools today, in fact, Special education harbors 12.8 of all students in the United States, according to national statistics from the Center for Public Education. The difference between students with emotional and behavioral impairments and students with mental disabilities is that emotional and behavioral impairments are manageable and do not directly affect the development and learning abilities of the student, whereas disabilities disable the students potential mentally and often physically as well to the point where learning is interrupted. In a research study conducted by Linda Teplin of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, data was collected that supports common claims that students with mental impairments who are placed in special education classes catered to the mentally disabled specifically, do not benefit from the services as much as other students, Teplin points out that, Approximately 50 of students age 14 and older who are living with a mental illness and impairment drop out of high school. This is the highest dropout rate of any disability group,(Teplin 2002). This statistic on the drop out rates of students with mental impairments helps to emphasize that mainstreaming education is a viable option for a more successful education method for students in the emotional/behavioral impairment category because these students benefit least from special education programs. With inclusion in place in our school systems, a new dynamic will be created in the classroom that will work better to teach students, both mentally impaired and stable. In a debate posted online by Jennifer French, a parent of two special education students, and advocate for mainstreaming education, on inclusion versus exclusion in education titled, The Benefits and Disadvantages of an Inclusion Classroom, she states, The inclusion classroom helps students with a mental illness to be educated alongside non disabled peers. This helps with socialization and ensuring higher standards (French 2008). Meaning that when students from special education classes are transitioned into general education classrooms, both the transitioned and the general education students benefit from the social interaction. This is also seen in a Johns Hopkins observational study conducted by students of the university, on the achievement of students in first through third grade classrooms. The study reported that, Improved reading performance was noticeable for all students however, it was most significant among the lowest achievers. Research showed an improvement on standardized tests for students in integrated settings( The data from this research proves that all students benefit from inclusion because the integration helps to naturally enhance the performance of all students in an inclusive setting through completion between peers. Furthermore, inclusion in school systems is one of the most beneficial experiences possible for both mentally impaired and general education students. For example, the story of Adreian Payne, a senior NBA prospect at Michigan State University, shows the important role inclusion plays in the development of students. Adreian Payne was diagnosed with cognitive impairment in kindergarten, it wasnt until a general education teacher noticed him doing nothing in a special education classroom one day during his freshman year of high school that he was removed from special education classes and put completely into the general classroom. The teacher worked with him everyday after school to help him catch up to other general education students. Adreian now attends Michigan State University and maintains a 3.1 GPA while playing basketball and managing his cognitive impairment. His story shows the difference between impairments and disabilities. Overall, far too often students are placed or diagnosed, sometimes falsely, with emotional or behavioral impairments and put in special education classrooms when it is unnecessary. According to the National Health Interview Survey, 22.87 of students in special education programs have either emotional or behavioral impairments, ( Special education has become such a broad method of education in todays school systems that almost half of the students in special education programs do not even have a mental disability. The issue is that school systems fail to understand the difference between impairments and disabilities. Special education is more harmful to students with impairments because often times, impairments, especially emotional and behavioral, do not accompany a learning disability, which was the intended purpose of special education programs. Students may go through a traumatic event, such as the death of a parent, and develop an emotional or behavioral impairment, the students grades may drop, is that a problem Yes. Is it a disability No. In summation, by categorizing students based on expected achievement levels we take the opportunity to learn away from them. Knowledge is everything in this world by segregating students into special and general education classrooms when there is no learning disability we rob those students of their potential. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained and he only holds the key to his own secret.(Emerson 1863). Works Cited Peterson, John. A TIMELINE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION HISTORY. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2013. http// DoDEA. Special Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2013. http// Issue Brief. Publication of the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. http// Result Filters. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. http// Up Front. The Brookings Institution. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. http// Interpreting Trends in the Performance of SpecialEducation Students. Interpreting Trends in the Performance of Special Education Students. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. http// Harr-Robins, Jenifer. The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in School Accountability Systems. Interim Report. NCEE 2012-4056. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. http// Boyles, Salynn. ADHD Medications Help Kids in School. WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. http// Kaye, H. Stephen. UCSF - Disability Statistics Center. UCSF - Disability Statistics Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. http// The Special Ed Wiki. Emotional And Behavioral Disorders -. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. http// Differences Between Traditional and Distance Education Academic Performances A Meta-Analytic Approach Shachar The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Differences Between Traditional and Distance Education Academic Performances A Meta-Analytic Approach Shachar The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. http// Emerson, Ralph Waldo, and James Elliot Cabot. Lectures and biographical sketches. Riverside ed. Boston Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 18841883. Print. How many students with disabilities are in our school(s). Data First. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013. http// Dimitri, and Janice Papolos. CAPMH Full text Controversies concerning the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children.Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. http// Barrett, Paula Maria. Treatment of childhood anxiety Developmental aspects.http// Griffith University, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. Garber, Judy, Sarah A. Frankel, and Brandyn M. Street. Construct Validity of Childhood Bipolar Disorder A Developmental Perspective.http// Blackwell Publishing , n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. http//ezproxy.stevenson.edu2068/eds/detailvid14sid5ea9c4a6-98ba-42c8-8a28-82dd1ca0570540sessionmgr12hid7bdata Preece, David , and Rita Jordan. Short Breaks Services for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders Factors Associated with Service Use and.http// Springer

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