Inclusive education is still a controversial topic, in spite of different acts that been passed to make life easier for children with disabilities and their parents. In the second half of the 20th century, the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA, was approved. From this moment, children with various degrees of disability can receive an appropriate education and gain opportunities to find a place in the world. Discussions around the IDEA continue because this act has both positive and negative sides, regarding its implementation; and there are significant barriers to establishing a set of rules for schools.
The IDEA was passed for the first time in a wave of demands from parents to provide their children with an education. In accordance with social investigations, “Inclusion is recognizing that we are one even though we are not the same”1. These demands were supported but it was not clear what level of inclusion the parents expected from the politicians who passed the act. IDEA sets many complex goals regarding the implementation and evaluation of the measures of teachers. The act provides free access to public education since “Inclusion is founded on social justice principles in which all students are presumed competent and welcomed as valued members of all general education classes”3. It, as conceived by the legislators, could allow children to prepare for life in society and further education (college, university, or private courses). In addition, they are supposed to prepare children with disabilities for further employment. IDEA provides support to parents, especially if they are unable to leave work or take part-time jobs.
The most important aspect of IDEA is that teachers, doctors and psychologists should practice early intervention; it had to begin with the diagnosis. If a child is born with deafness, blindness, or a skull injury, early intervention is considered from birth to two years of age. Further, children should be given the opportunity to go to a kindergarten, preferably a regular one, where kids without disabilities play and communicate.
Like many acts, IDEA is subject to many protocols and legal papers. These papers, on the one hand, protect children and their parents, allowing the latter to feel safe. However, it is difficult to consider the upbringing of children with disabilities in conjunction with protocol data since it is impossible to establish requirements for them. It became one of the cornerstones in the implementation of the IDEA.
Positive and Negative Aspects
The first negative aspect is that excessive protocol makes it impossible to define the rules that teachers and, most importantly, children should follow. However, in protection of children and their health, it is impossible to deal without the involvement of the legal aspect. Protocols cause many teachers to subtilize and resist written requirements. Doctors and psychologists do not know how to clearly formulate the requirements for children with disabilities who want to study in schools. The second negative aspect is the inability to adequately evaluate children’s efforts and results. Teachers can only rely on their experience, calculating whether the student meets the requirements or not. Without evaluating the results, it is impossible to move from one stage to another and draw conclusions about learning.
The third negative aspect is the money issue, which in all its diversity has been causing complaints from parents for a long time. In addition to the reluctance of some states to spend big money on the formation of an inclusive education system, local governments can also choose not to be inclusive. The calculation of the budget in inclusive education depends on many aspects since children with different types of disabilities require different tools for education. It makes complicated to provide exactly free education to people with disabilities, although the IDEA initially stated the importance of free education.
The positive aspect is the discovery of early intervention and the spread of it. Early intervention allows people to see in detail how the child develops, what problems he or she experiences when interacting with parents. Doctors and psychologists can make the first predictions and plan kindergarten education. Another positive aspect is the developed legal protection of children and their parents. Protection helps to prevent or record cases of discrimination against a child. This protection will help to prosecute people who have shown negligence towards the child. Some people, relying on their stereotypes, think that society is not interested in the problems of disabled people, and is not ready to protect them since there is no benefit in this. Often, people are “afraid of being “faced” with their own mortality, with imperfection.”4 IDEA shows that the times of ignoring the problems of disabled people are over, and civilized society is interested in their development.
A positive aspect is also the interaction of parents and teachers. Opinions of teachers and parents often differ in terms of the needs and comfort of the child, sometimes, parents “have serious reservations about inclusive educational practices.”2 It rises conflicts, misunderstandings, which can have a negative impact on the child’s learning process. Children with disabilities have a very strong attachment to their parents, at the same time, the teacher appears to them as omniscient. Seeing their confrontation, the child may feel dissonance, which will complicate the emotional process of his learning. In addition, parents and teachers may also have different opinions about the degree of a child’s disability. Parents may often be unaware of the child’s condition since they do not have a specialized education; this is principally true for Part C of IDEA, early intervention.
Barriers and Solutions
The interaction between teachers and parents is one of the most important barriers, the solution of which requires comprehensive work. Coaches and psychologists should be involved; professionals will have counseling sessions with parents, especially if they are discouraged and frustrated. To overcome this barrier, it is recommended to clearly separate the responsibilities of teachers and parents and keep in touch, and see each other as often as possible. For example, “The role of direct support professionals needs to be redefined from one of skills developer to one of community connecter”1. The teacher will see that there are adults who love the child, and they are planning to lead him or her to a happy future.
The second barrier is the sacramental problem of budgets; the calculation of budgets and their direct implementation in schools is complicated by the unwillingness of politicians to fulfill the duties assigned by society. Overcoming this barrier can be the creation of a convenient and transparent system for deducting funds for the education system. This transparent system can be overseen by special funds affiliated with federal agencies.
IDEA provides good opportunities for inclusive education in theory, however there are problems in practice. These problems are related to federal and local budgets and the inability to bring the requirements and results of children under precise protocols. The theoretical base of inclusive education is not filled with accurate data on the capabilities of children with different types of disabilities. In addition, there is the problem of interaction between teachers and parents who have different views on the upbringing of children.
Gomez SC. The vision for inclusion. Inclusion. 2013;1(1):1-4.
Inclusion: The pros and cons. Introduction – Issues…about Change, Inclusion: The Pros and Cons, 4(3). Web.
Inclusion: The right thing for all students: WNYC: New York Public Radio, podcasts, live streaming radio, news. WNYC. Web.
Kenkeldesign. Inclusion: It’s about change! Forest & Pearpoint. Inclusion Press. Web.