Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Including msk

As we start looking for a new school for msk one of the big things we'll be looking for is an inclusive setting. When I was a student in Baltimore City Schools in the bad old days they were just trying to come to terms with the idea of educating kids who's skin color were different in the same schools. While I don't want to imply that that problem is solved it seems trivial compared to the idea of educating special needs student along with general education students. While you do here some of the same biggoted statement like "I don't want my kids to be educated in the same room with those kind of kids." or "Trying to educate those kind of kids is a waste of money, they just can't learn." On the whole there are more compasionate arguements against including special needs kids in a regular education setting. "The smaller classroom and specialized training will give them a better education." or "The regular ed students will harrass them."

What is come down to, though, is a legal right to be educated in the least restrictive restrictive setting that is appropriate for them. Msk has been successful in an LRE A setting for the last two years. He has been less successful in an LRE F setting previously and before that in an LRE C setting.

First, here's some vocabulary to help explain what all these levels mean:
  • LRE level A -out of general education classroom < 21%
  • LRE level B -out of general education classroom 21% - 60% of the day
  • LRE level C -out of general education classroom >60% of the day
  • LRE level F&G -separate public and private schools
When we decided it was time to move msk to a less restrictive setting than level F there was an arguement that maybe we should step him down gradually to find the least restrictive setting that was appropriate for him. I'm not sure we would have made the big jump if the school that worked out for us had a level B or C setting capability. They weren't a big enough school to handle full time special ed placements. Our level F setting made it clear that we could come back if it didn't work out and so we took the plunge. Looking back, I don't think msk would have been successful in a gradual step down process. Constant changes aren't good for him and it's clear that his general ed peeers have really helped his progress. A level A setting (with lots of supports) is where he's been successful, so that's his right. I'm not saying every school can support him so he can succeed in a level A setting, but we will be trying our hardest to find a school where that will happen.

So, besides being a legal right, why do I think that inclusion is the way to educate special need students?
  • The first and most obvious reason is that we no longer live in a society where people are instiutionalized. Eventually, to whatever level they can, these students will need to live in society and they need to be working on that skill as early as they can.

  • General ed students need to learn that there are lots of different people, some with some pretty major problems, but that we're all humans and we can live together

  • When teachers learn to differentiate education for one child they learn that it's not thaat hard to do and that many students without IEPs can benefit from a tailored lesson

  • A lot of learning in schools is peer to peer. A diversity of peers makes for the richest learning environment

I know different kids have different needs, but I think many special needs students are in more restrictive settings than is really required. The biggest driver is that all parties need to want inclusion to work. It's that desire for working with msk and seeing him as adding to their school that I'll be looking for in meetings with schools.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. Ads, on the other hand, will be deleted.