40 years ago a public school’s Special Education program resembled more of institution than a classroom. Today, with the inclusion model in full force our Special Education programs seek to mainstream even the most severe children.
Extra Attention Paid to Special Students Takes Away from Rest of the Class?
Some educators and parents disagree with the inclusion methodology because there will inevitably be extra-needed attention paid to that one special student while the rest of the class waits for the teacher to get back to general lesson.
I understand their point. Inclusion looks good on paper but it doesn’t always work in practice. However, that argument is too linear for today’s classroom because the times really are a changin’.
There are More Special Ed Students in General Ed Classrooms Than Ever Before
The push and pull of the special education spectrum is ever-changing, and today’s classroom includes a greater number of Special Education students than ever before.
The National Education Association agrees:
Over the past 10 years, the number of U.S. students enrolled in special education programs has risen 30 percent. Three out of every four students with disabilities spend part or all of their school day in a general education classroom. In turn, nearly every general education classroom across the country includes students with disabilities. Each school and school district must determine the best way to conduct programs and figure out how to pay for them.
This trend isn’t ending anytime soon.
The fact of the matter is that with new diagnosis, new cognitive neuroscience research, new identified learning disabilities, and new psychological re-classifications (like the updated DSM-V, which does away with Asperger’s and instead diagnosis Autism with various severity levels) there will be more kids in the general education classroom receiving special education services.
This is not a bad thing because it means science, psychology, and education are beginning to merge, pinpointing how each individual learns best.
The More We Understand How Best Our Students Learn, The More We Realize There is No Normal
Was there ever really a “normal”, per se? Our education system seems to think so with its “normalized ranges” and standardized testing. The term normal has been replaced with the softer “grade level” and “developmental” verbiage. Although the nomenclature has changed, our generalized viewpoints have not. Our education system still believes there is a normal standard of achievement.
But normal is a variance. It is not concrete. It is not a one-size-fits-all ideal.
So the quicker we understand that each of the 32 kids in the class learns differently, the quicker we can get on with helping them identify and use the best tools and strategies to understand the lesson respectively.
Normal never was but different will always be. And that’s a good thing.
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.