School Systems Move Toward
Special Education Inclusion
by Jennifer Scott-Heaslip, The Dominion Post, November
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school systems are moving toward special education inclusion.
Inclusion means incorporating special education instruction in
the traditional classroom daily, instead of sending
special-needs students to other rooms to receive instruction.
Ray Bryant, chief of special education reform for Washington
D.C. Public Schools, said that while students with mental
retardation learn at a slower rate, the instruction does not
always have to take place outside the traditional classroom.
Bryant said that special-needs students benefit academically and
socially when learning alongside their peers.
Carol Quirk, director of professional development services for
the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, said to make
inclusion work, general education teachers must accept
special-needs students as members of their regular classrooms,
then include special education teachers in their education
Bryant said that inclusion benefits go well beyond basic
instruction. Inclusion provides special education students with
peer role models. It also encourages parents and teachers to set
higher expectations for special-needs students.
What's more, Bryant said, special education teachers sometimes
need a new perspective. When he taught only special education
students, he forgot what traditional students their age could
Public schools in the nation's capital practice inclusion unless
it is proven the special-needs students are not benefiting from
"Kids are going to grow up to be a part of the community, and
they're not going to move into the 'retarded' neighborhood,"
"If we continue to isolate kids, that's not going to do anyone
While research tends to favor inclusion, Quirk said, some
studies indicate that a combination of separation and inclusion
work best. There is no research that shows more benefits for
students who are separated in self-contained classrooms.
On the Web
Web sites that offer inclusion information:
W.Va. Department of Education Office of Special Education
Monongalia County special education department
Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education
International association dedicated to inclusion
WrightsLaw offers information and advocacy for special education
Provides a special education guide with information,
organizations, articles and other Web links.
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