With every new testing mandate, or demand for teacher/school accountability, rumblings occur that possibly some children shouldn't be included in regular education classrooms. (The thinking is the school/class test scores go down, teachers can't meet all the needs, and kids with disabilities can't complete the work the same as typical children.) It doesn't seem to matter to some that research points to improvements in literacy, behavior, social skills and communication skills when children with disabilities are included with typical peer role models. The thought at the moment seems to focus on class proficiency, test scores, mClass, Common Core, reading groups, 'showing your thinking', writing personal narratives, and myriad other typical tasks that fill a day. The child with a disability is pointed out, and blamed, at least in thought, for the cause of a classroom/school problem. I say this is total nonsense---and antiquated thinking.
I will continue to be a staunch advocate leaning towards the side of inclusion each and every day. Inclusion is win-win. A child with a disability wins, and the typical peers win. I can't even begin to describe how my own children were influenced in a positive way by being a part of inclusive classrooms, joining lunch bunches, being in cooperative learning groups, and playing at recess with children of all abilities. Out of school, they joined play dates, birthday parties, and girl scout events---ability was not a factor. All of my own children are now involved in public service. I want to think that being raised in an inclusive environment helped guide them in this direction.
What does the research say? Here's one view.
What does a kid say? Watch this!
What does a parent say? Go here for information about Including Samuel Watch the documentary! It's wonderful.
Kids don't have to earn inclusion. Go HERE for more of my thoughts on this.