Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Is inclusion always "appropriate"?

Saw this article in our local paper this morning, and I guess it should have made me mad at the bad, bad school district who allowed this girl to graduate without actually educating her, but you know what? Instead, it made me mad at the family that pushed so hard for inclusion. It just seems to bring up so many of the significant and hard-to-manage problems that come with the enthusiastic embrace of inclusion for severely disabled kids, most especially of all: What does "appropriate" mean? Insisting on FAPE -- a Free and Appropriate Public Education -- is all well and good, but who's going to judge what "appropriate" means? For me, an "appropriate" education for my son with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can only take place in the controlled, regimented confines of a self-contained classroom; inclusion, I think, would be massively inappropriate for him. Clearly, the parents of the young woman in the story felt the only appropriate place for their daughter was an inclusion classroom, and is now complaining that the school district didn't make that work for her.

Throwing kids into inclusion programs without the necessary support is a huge problem. Figuring out how to provide the necessary support in a less-than-ideal setting is another. I can't even begin to imagine how our district could make inclusion work for my son -- it would for sure take a lot of money and time and personnel, and in the end I think he would not get as good an education as he would in that smaller environment. I wonder if the same is true of the girl in the story -- whether she could have gotten the assistance and education she needed in a dedicated class for people with disabilities, and benefited more from that than from the nominal inclusion she received. I know, this is anathema for a lot of people. But isn't it possible that for some students, what's "appropriate" is a specialized program? And that mainstream services are specifically not "appropriate"? And that spending millions to try to make something work that is not ideal for anybody is the most inappropriate thing of all?


Anonymous said...

Well, sure. Isn't that what the "Individual" in the Individual Education Plan was supposed to mean? But maybe I have an old copy....

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more! Why have a child constantly struggle and constantly fail because the environment of a traditional classroom makes it impossible for that child to succeed? Inclusion is great for some disabilities, but its simply not the best option for many kids. Why destroy self esteem when there are better options?

>>>>>Karen, Mom to Talla, Molly (dyspraxia) and Sam (Aspergers)