Inclusive School Communities Essay

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Inclusive School Communities

One of the most significant and controversial trends in education today is the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities into general education classrooms. Inclusion refers to the practice of educating all students regardless of disability in the same classroom as students without disabilities. Though the term is relatively new, the underlying principle is not, and reflects the belief that students with disabilities should be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE), or as close to the mainstream of general education as possible. The LRE principle is one of the key components of federal special education law.

Advocates of inclusion believe that in most cases, if not all, the LRE
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Inclusion may actually have significant positive benefits for all students (Staub, 1995).

Though it is unlikely that inclusion will enhance the development of academic skills in students without disabilities, there is evidence that inclusion may have other very substantial outcomes for students who engage in regular interaction with students who are disabled. Outcomes such as compassion, a better understanding of differences, and a stronger commitment to including those with disabilities in other areas of life are noted in the literature. Davern and Schnorr (1989) state the following in presenting these possible benefits.

How does the presence of students with special needs affect other students at school? The majority of students in our public schools learn very powerful lessons when students with special needs are separated from them. Since they do not get to know these students well, they often come to believe that these children and young adults are different and scary, and should be separated from them. When students with differences are not in their classrooms, these classrooms do not reflect society and do not adequately prepare our children for the future. If we want graduates who welcome others-regardless of their learning, physical or emotional characteristics-as neighbors, coworkers and friends, daily shared experience among students will be essential (p.22).

In this paper I will focus on the possible
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