Special education programs within a school system can range anywhere from “full inclusive,” in which students with disabilities spend their time in general education classrooms with their non-disabled peers, to “non-inclusive, in which special needs children are taught in completely separate class rooms. A couple months ago, the US Department of Education’s blog featured a story about a visit to Beers Elementary School in Washington, DC. While a visit to a school by officials from the higher echelons of the educational system may be special, Beers seems like a special case. What sets Beers apart from other schools is its use of a fully inclusive educational program .
The idea of inclusive schools is not a new one, and as such, its lack of prevalence within the school system seems rather strange. A case study by Ryndak et al. suggests that inclusive education programs are more successful in creating positive, long-term outcomes, than their non-inclusive counterparts . It would seem that if a program were successful, that it should be implemented throughout the entire system. However, this does not seem to be the case.
The problem, it seems, lies in the amount of money and support that it requires to implement an inclusive program like the one Beers is running. David Weitzel, an elementary school professor, suggests that special needs programs are generally underfunded and the implementation of full-inclusion within a school places a great deal of financial burden on the schools . Research by Koegel, Harrower, and Koegel states that while inclusive schools work, their successfulness is dependent on adequate support procedures .
Given some the problems associated with implementing and successfully running a fully inclusive school, it will be interesting to see if the trend toward full inclusion continues its slow climb.
1. Brenchley, Cameron. (2011, March 15). Duncan and team get first-hand look at successful inclusion of students with disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/03/duncan-and-team-get-first-hand-look-at-successful-inclusion-of-students-with-disabilities/
2. U.S. secretary of education visits beers elementary school, discusses best practices . (2011, March 16). Retrieved from http://www.film.dc.gov/DCPS/Learn+About+Schools/School+News/
3. Ryndak, D. (2010). Long-term outcomes of services in inclusive and self-contained settings for siblings with comparable significant disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45(1), Retrieved from http://daddcec.org/Publications/ETADDJournal/ETDDDetailsPage/tabid/80/ArticleID/38/Default.aspx
4. Wietzel, D. (2004, April 28). A problematic philosophy of “full inclusion”. Retrieved from http://www.newfoundations.com/PracEthics/Weitzel.html
5. Koegel, L.K., Harrower, J.K., & Koegel, R.L. (1999). Support for children with developmental disabilities in full inclusion classrooms through self-management. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1(1), 26-34.