Investigating Critical & Contemporary Issues in Education/Diverse Learning Needs

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Bobbie Blevins: Brunswick

Inclusion has become more popular in our schools today, however there are a lot of controversial issues surrounding this particular form of education. Classrooms are evolving more and more as technology and the world expands, but at what costs and who is it really effecting? Children with special needs are often misunderstood and mistreated in the sense that they are constantly labeled and treated like outcast’s or like they do not belong. One thing that causes a stir in the topic of education is inclusion. There are a lot of arguments involving inclusion and whether or not it is having a good impact on all involved or not. This article will further explain the definition of inclusion and explain the positive and negative effects. This article will also explain labeling and the problems that arise with it.

Inclusion is the placement of a student, regardless of the level of his or her disability, into an age appropriated general education classroom. Another popular definition of inclusion is described as bringing children who are disabled out of their special education classes and placing them into regular education classes and in the process reducing referrals and labels and strengthing the regular school programs. Inclusion is split into two types: Full inclusion – where all the child’s needs are met within one classroom. Partial inclusion – where the child is in regular class for a period, and then placed in a special class for the remainder of the time. The goals of inclusion include socialization skills, stimulating experiences, enhanced self esteem, and the opportunity to be normal, along with regular education goals. Inclusion has become a well discussed topic, many argue on whether it has good or bad effects and ways to improve. The American Federation of Teachers in West Virginia conducted a poll on how teachers felt about inclusion and whether or not anyone benefited from it. They found that 78% believed students would not benefit from inclusion, and 87% felt that regular education students would not benefit either. The ATF also cited, “When inclusion efforts fail, it is frequently due to a lack of appropriate training for teachers in mainstream classrooms, ignorance about inclusion among senior-level administrators, and a general lack of funding for resources and training.” (Thompkins 1). It has also been argued that, “Research indicates that the needs of students who are gifted can be met in the inclusive classroom under certain prerequisite conditions: 1) the students are appropriately grouped, either in clusters or some homogenous arrangement. 2) The students receive an appropriately differentiated curriculum.” (Freq...1). Inclusion can have positive effects on special needs children however it may not be positive to the other children. Many fear that while inclusion may increase socialization and esteem in the special needs children, it may cause problems for the regular education children. They express concerns that normal learners will not get the attention they need. Many educators feel that they will not be able to meet the needs of ALL their students, if they have to take time to assist the inclusion children. However, if class sizes are reduced and teachers are trained more efficiently to deal with such circumstances, then maybe there would be fewer problems. The law states that all children are to be given equal educational opportunities therefore, why should special need’s children be placed in secluded classes away from everyone else when they can have the chance of normalcy.

Labeling special needs children is another issue that causes problems. Special needs children are too often labeled as “retarded or ignorant” and treated like they carry disease. People look at them and often stare or ignore them completely. All of these things are as hurtful to them as they are to any “normal” person, they can cause low self esteem and some children will even withdraw further into themselves. This includes children with behavioral problems such as ADHD. Children with ADHD are not necessarily bad children they just have a harder time than others. Many of these types of issues have underlining causes such as a poor home life. Teachers tend to dislike students with behavior problems right off the bat, which is unfair to the children. Many children just need someone to care and take the time to ensure that they succeed. Children need positive reinforcement to grow and flourish. Therefore it is critical to their livelihood to treat them as you would any other child, with patience and understanding.

In conclusion, it is important to make the necessary changes to better inclusion and reduce labeling and its effects. There are strategies to improve inclusion one just needs to look for resources and take ideas from the school systems that have used such strategies and succeeded. Education is critical to ensure children’s future. Why not let them have their chance?

References "Frequently asked questions about inclusion." The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. Web. 31 Aug. 2009. <>. Kuhns, Deborah E., and Paul E. Chapman. "How does shared decision making impact inclusion?" National Forum of Special Education Journal 17 (2005-2006): 1-17. National Forum. William Allen Kritsonis. Web. 10 Sept. 2009. <>. Thompkins, Richard, and Pat Deloney. "Inclusion: The pros and cons." Welcome to SEDL: Advancing Research, Improving Education. 1995. Web. 10 Sept. 2009. <>.

Monica Anderson: Camden

As we all know the practice of inclusion in the classroom is a growing concern among teachers, parents, and students. As a teacher, the work load could be tripled by dealing with students with special needs because dealing with a regular classroom can be difficult as it is. By a regular classroom I mean children with no specific learning disabilities hearing, visual, and speech, mental or emotional disturbance. The increased labeling of special needs students and the practice of inclusion could have an enormous effect on the everyday classroom. If certain special needs students are included in the inclusion process, this could have a tremendously bad outcome on the progress of our classrooms. Teachers would have to learn with how to deal with structural complications and the impact certain students would bring to the class. There are many statistics that show the percentage of special needs students is growing rapidly. I believe by the process of inclusion in the classroom, we will set ourselves back not only in the learning department but also in the teaching department.

In order for the inclusion of classrooms to prevail, many adaptations must occur not only on the teaching and student end of the curriculum but also on the structural integrity end of the classroom. In order for learning to prevail, distractions and interruptions must be limited. Structure will be the key for the inclusion of classrooms to succeed. If special needs students are going to learn in the same classroom as the "normal" students a great deal of co-planning between general and special education teachers is in order. I do not believe that one teacher will be sufficient for a classroom that is going through the inclusion process. There will have to be a fine line in the content the teachers' plan on presenting to the class and the process of teaching will be greatly altered. The reason for the fine line of content is if the content is to overwhelming for a certain part of the class, it will have to be gone over multiple times before that part of the class can move on without being left behind. On the same note, if the content is too diluted, the upper part of the class will suffer educationally and with their spare time could distract the lower part of the class needing the extra help. Also, the curriculum may have to be altered in order for the school to meet the state and local standards of learning. Students requiring a special education teacher may also develop emotional difficulties by receiving the special help required to learn the curriculum in front of students who don't need the special teacher. This may create further disruptions in the classroom that may not be able to be handled by the regular teacher and a special team may be required to handle a situation.

In 2003 studies showed in the United States that in the fourth grade there are 437,000 out of 4,000,000 students were with disabilities. This is roughly 11 percent of fourth grade students. Almost half of that population was white. In the same year the studies for eighth grade students with disabilities showed 11.1 percent (Authors' calculations using the NAEP 2003 Mathematics Assessment data). Black children account for 17 percent of the total school enrollment but 33 percent of that 17 are labeled mentally retarded. For some children receiving inappropriate services may be more harmful than receiving none at all. For others, not receiving help early enough may exacerbate learning and behavior problems. Some 20 percent of Latino students in grades 7 through 12 had been suspended from school according to statistics from 1999 compared with 15 percent of white students and 35 percent of African American students. Poorly trained teachers, who are disproportionately employed in minority schools, have been found to use special education as a discipline areary tool and demonstrate cultural insensitivity, fear and misunderstanding of black males. In California, research indicates that English language learners, whose access to language support is limited, are more likely to be placed in restrictive special education classes (The National Center for Education Statistics, 2004).

The impact inclusion in the classrooms could have on the normal learners is both positive and negative. "The negative end relates to students with severe emotional problems who present a danger to other pupils". "Many parents would prefer their disabled children to attend segregated or "special" schools". "The governments’ models, where choices emphasize in the present circumstances there would seem to be no option but to maintain some segregated provision". The ever increasing numbers of violent students appearing at younger and younger ages seems to be a wide spread international problem. "If such problems cannot be prevented or contained in the school through the development of the skills and methods in the school staff, other forms of provision will be needed". "A study completed in the UK, suggests that well structure, consistent and fair disciplinary procedures rates of exclusion for poor behavior can be reduced" (Pearpoint, 1999). After reviewing all of the facts, there are still many herdals[check spelling] to clear before inclusive classroom learning will be fine tuned. I think that it could be a wonderful program as long as the children with special needs that are going to be placed into "normal" classrooms have sufficient support from the education program and aren't just pushed through the program. I also believe that there are certain special needs students that shouldn't be placed into inclusive classrooms because of the severity of their diverse learning needs. As long as there is a good set of checks and balances with the students and staff, I think there can be a lot of success with inclusion in the classrooms.

Work Cited 1. These “expediencies” are adapted from Clutes, Loa. “Special Education Workshop.” Eastern Idaho Technical College, Idaho Falls, ID. Web. Sept. 1994. 2. Differentiated Instruction. Home Page. Web. 2001. 3. Authors’ calculations using the NAEP 2003 Mathematics Assessment data, using the state samples. Web. 2003 4. Beyond Brown pursuing the promise. Home Page. Web. 5. Instructing Students with High-Incidence Disabilities in the General Education Classroom. 6. OECD on Inclusion. Inclusion Network. Web. Mar. 1999.