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Article of Interest - Inclusion

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School Systems Move Toward Special Education Inclusion
by Jennifer Scott-Heaslip, The Dominion Post, November 28, 2003
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Nationwide, 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 planning.

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 do.

Public schools in the nation's capital practice inclusion unless it is proven the special-needs students are not benefiting from it.

"Kids are going to grow up to be a part of the community, and they're not going to move into the 'retarded' neighborhood," Bryant said.

"If we continue to isolate kids, that's not going to do anyone any good."

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:

* http://wvde.state.wv.us/ose/

W.Va. Department of Education Office of Special Education

* http://boe.mono.k12.wv.us/

Monongalia County special education department

* www.mcie.org

Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education

* www.tash.org

International association dedicated to inclusion

* www.wrightslaw.com/

WrightsLaw offers information and advocacy for special education issues.

* www.parentpals.com/gossamer/pages/

Provides a special education guide with information, organizations, articles and other Web links.

    

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