Inclusive schools need to become a reality for all students across the nation regardless of abilities, socio-economic background and geographic location. Unfortunately, many school districts do not see the inclusive classroom as the Least Restrictive Environment and an appropriate placement for children with special needs. Thus, what one child has free and appropriate access to, another one doesn’t. And then inclusion , which has been proven by experts to be the gold standard of special education, becomes an ideal situation…if you can get it.
The lack of universal practice of inclusive education in our school system creates an overall discord in our social value system and risks the overall future success of our students. While one school teaches respect and tolerance, another models segregation and exclusion. While one school welcomes students of all abilities with open arms, another turns away a student who lives across the street. While one student has access to assistive technology, another is removed from the classroom. Children are constantly receiving mixed messages of appreciation for and the potential of humankind.
As our nation busies itself with a core curriculum that can be taught in public schools to ensure the future success of students, it seems to not see value in the way children receive that education. There are vast differences in the how students experience learning in inclusive school systems as opposed to those who don’t. Inclusive schools are inherently student-centered and are equipped to support various learning styles. Inclusive schools acknowledge that the social and emotional development of a student is just as important as the intellectual development. Do we want a future of children with math skills but lack kindness and empathy towards others?
Unfortunately, I have seen first-hand how an inclusive school system compares to a school system that separates and segregates. My two children have had entirely different elementary school experiences because they were in two different school systems. It is very evident which child had the inclusive education and which one did not. Clearly, inclusive education (or the lack thereof) has influenced their language, attitudes and behavior towards others. I wish inclusion were a way of life for both my children.
We are a rapidly developing, progressive society and need to provide our children with opportunities to learn, grow and interact with all kinds of people. We need inclusive schools need to be available to all children so that all children receive equal opportunities to be successful citizens of the future.
Read more about Nicole Eredics here.
Nicole is an Elementary Teacher who has spent over 15 years teaching in an inclusive school system in British Columbia, Canada. As a teacher in an inclusive classroom, she teamed with parents, administrators, co-teachers, paraprofessionals and outside agencies to teach children of all abilities. Her strong belief in inclusive education drives her desire to ensure that all children receive equal and enriching education.
Nicole’s website, podcasts, and livebinders are some of the best sources for inclusion out there. Nicole co-hosts a podcast, The Inclusive Class , on which expert guests are interviewed about various topics related to inclusion. Her website, www.theinclusiveclass.com is full of resources and information related to the inclusive classroom. Her online LiveBinder, called The Inclusive Class, is stocked full of printables, tip sheets and information about working with children with various needs.