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Pros and Cons of Inclusion

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Autor:   •  March 9, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,714 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,269 Views

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Inclusion is a subject that has polarized educators since the inception of legislation to govern special education. Proponents of inclusion are concerned with the high cost of special education, promoting the "least restrictive environment" and educational equality in the classroom. Opponents believe there are not enough resources, materials, and time for teachers to take on special education in the classroom. They also believe teachers lack the skills necessary to make "accommodations" in the classroom. This only causes social strife among the "regular" students.

The pros and cons of inclusion present a wide spectrum of viewpoints and philosophy. According to the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), Inclusion is a term, which expresses commitment to educate each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing the support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class (rather than having to keep up with the other students). Full inclusion means that all students, regardless of handicapping condition or severity, will be in a regular classroom/program full time. All services must be taken to the student in that setting.

Two federal laws govern the education of children with disabilities. Neither requires inclusion, but both require that a significant effort be made to find an inclusive placement. The first is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as amended in 1997, does not require inclusion. In fact, there is no mention of the word inclusion in this document. The term "least restrictive environment, indicates the regular classroom environment. The other law is called Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under Section 504, the recipients of federal funds for education must provide education for each qualified handicapped person in its jurisdiction with persons who are not handicapped to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the handicapped person (WEAC 1996). While the proponents and opponents of inclusion debate on the ramifications of the two bills, some questions remain unanswered. For example, How far must the schools go? What are the rights of the other children? How important is potential academic achievement/social growth in making placement decisions? These questions have polarized educators, legislators, and the public for decades. Some of the general issues debated are resources for funding special education, teacher preparedness, appropriate placement, and basic philosophical/moral/ethical differences (CEC, 2003).


Perhaps one of the strongest arguments for greater inclusion is a philosophical/moral/ethical base. Our country was founded on the ideals of freedom and equality. We don't have to look back too far in American history to remember the inequalities of slavery. Moving toward equality for all is a realization that still continues today. Even opponents agree that the philosophical and moral/ethical underpinnings for full inclusion are powerful. The arguments of this nature can be emotionally powerful and speak to all humanity with images of friendship, loyalty, togetherness, unity, helpfulness without monetary compensation, care-giving from the heart, and building a society based on mutual trust (SEDL, 1995).

Another case for inclusion is the effect of segregated special education on the students with disabilities. According to the National Association of State Boards of Education in 1992, 43 percent of students in special education did not graduate; youths with disabilities have a significantly higher likelihood of being arrested than their non-disabled peers (12 percent versus 8 percent); only 13.4 percent of youth with disabilities are living independently two years after leaving high school (compared to 33.2 percent of their non-disabled peers); and less than half of all youth with disabilities are employed after having been out of school one to two years. Proponents believe the end result has no advantages for special education placements (SEDL, 1995).

The costs of funding special education have come under much scrutiny. There is an increasing recognition on the part of special education policy makers that special education funding provisions impact the way in which special education programming is designed and provided. According to the Center of Special Education Finance (CSEF) in 1997, funding provisions can create incentives for placing special education students in more restrictive settings instead of promoting the least restrictive environment provision of the IDEA (CEC, 2002). Because the IDEA and Section 504 do not stipulate exact spending methods and allocations, the use of special education funds remains a debated issue.

Proponents also believe that the current special education system deals with the issue of "labeling effects" on students with disabilities. The social strife of a student with disabilities can lower expectations and self-esteem (SEDL, 1995). According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the benefits of inclusive programs include the learning of new academic and social skills within the natural environment; typical peers serving as models for students with disabilities; and the development of natural friendships within the child's home community. Reducing the fear of human differences is a significant step towards reducing the negative effects of labeling (RGESIP, 1996).

The positive effects of inclusive education on classmates without disabilities have been well documented. Both research and anecdotal data have shown that typical learners have demonstrated a greater acceptance and valuing of individual differences, enhanced self-esteem, a genuine capacity for friendship, and the acquisition of new skills. Low-achieving students also benefited from the review, practice, clarity, and feedback provided to students with disabilities. When inclusive education is implemented appropriately, all students benefit (CEC, 2003).


The case against inclusion includes an array of concerns. One of the main issues is teacher preparedness. According to O'Donnell, there are not enough resources supplied to the general education teacher to help them transition to inclusion or to maintain the program. What kind of resources? One is proper training in making accommodations. Many general education teachers are ignorant to the meaning of "accommodations"


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