It’s Too Easy for Special Education to Turn into Babysitting

I have a new piece up at Al Jazeera America about barriers to inclusions in US schools for children with disabilities.

I am in regular conversation with parents across the U.S. who are struggling through much more difficult situations, whether from abuse, mockery or just general resistance to meeting a child’s needs. Sometimes school districts are resistant to change, claiming they are not required to provide the best option for students, instead opting to offer the bare minimum to students with disabilities. It’s too easy for special education to turn into baby-sitting.

I talk about our experiences, the experiences of other parents, and the the history of inclusion in US schools. I finish with this powerful quote from a friend:

But schools too often balk at real inclusion. Despite evidence that inclusion enhances the quality of education for all kids, many schools offer only integration. “Integration works from the premise that, for the most part, it is the student with disability that needs to fit in,” Cátia Malaquias, an Australian inclusive education advocate and writer, said in a recent email. “Inclusion requires systemic change to accommodate all learners — that is, a system based on the methodology of universal design for learning, differentiated instruction and adapted curriculum.”

 In order to build a truly inclusive society, we have to break the idea that inclusion is something that can be measured out in percentages or limited numbers of hours per day. Inclusion requires total commitment and a radical shifting of mindset from policy makers, teachers, parents and all adults. And then we can make sure we teach it to our children.

So let’s keep working.

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