Inclusion: A Global Issue and Debate

Educating children with disabilities in classrooms with mainstream students without disabilities is called inclusion. Before the enactment of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in 1975, many districts in the United States did not have programs for special education students and if they did, the children were kept segregated from the mainstream population of students. The Act established two legal concepts contrived from the 14th Amendment. These concepts were FAPE, which stands for Free and Appropriate Public Education and LRE, which stands for the least restrictive environment. The FAPE concept established a free education that was appropriate for the child’s learning needs and the LRE concept issued in the idea that the least restrictive environment for the child is always sought.

Due to lawsuits and legal actions there has been a great deal of pressure put on individual states to push for full inclusion of all special education students. Each state and each district sometimes interprets the federal law in different scenarios and these interpretations are the basis for the legal action. This was brought to light during the case of Gaskins vs. the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The lawsuit forced the department to include all students for all or part of the day. The department had to create more inclusive classrooms. This meant that more teachers and educational support people had to be hired and budgets were expanded to meet the criteria of the lawsuit.

Inclusion is not just a local issue but a global one. According to Fasting (2010), many western society school policies and practices are turning over to the ideal of inclusion. In Norway, there is an ongoing debate of how to facilitate education to students with disabilities. The debate is fused because of the diversity of the students and the need to know how to serve both the disabled and non-disabled fairly. In the United States, it is more the how of inclusion and not the why. There are several opponents to inclusion and they believe that the education of the special education population should be separate from the mainstream classroom.

These opponents are a minority view and world organizations such as the World Conference on Special Needs Education. Here the issue was presented globally as not just a debate for special education inclusion but inclusion from all aspects of humanity. The conference decided that inclusive schools lead to inclusive societies and with these societies, no discrimination should exist. The conference, according to Blandul (2010), did recognize that not all children will embrace inclusion and that inclusion depended on how the special education population was embraced by the communities in which they lived. During Blandul’s study, the researcher found that a large population of mainstream Italian, Spanish, Romanian, and Polish students was not prepared to accept their disabled classmates.

References:

Blândul, V. (2010). INTERNATIONAL APPROACHES TO INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS IN MAINSTREAM EDUCATION. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 2129-36. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Fasting, R. B. (2010). INCLUSION THROUGH THE CONCEPT OF ADAPTED EDUCATION: A REVIEW OF THE NORWEGIAN CHALLENGES. Special Education, (1), 179-190. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

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