Inclusion captures an all-embracing societal ideology in which special needs students get the opportunity to learn next to their non-disabled peers. Notably, a traditional model would see special needs students in a special-needs environment. Inclusion seeks to have all students be part of the same classroom. The general students are expected to practice empathy and be less fearful of their peers’ differences. On the other hand, the special needs lot get to spend time with the general student population and emulate them. The inclusive classroom is often complex with a special set of obstacles that require a knowledgeable approach and a positive attitude. Arizona seeks to create a strong public education system that promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion for all its students. However, the program has been met with resistance, citing the lack of preprogramming training for instructors and access to an effective inclusive curriculum. Still, the inclusive educational environment provides a wide range of benefits for not only disabled students but also the educational experiences of non-disabled children.
Stakeholders and Key Characteristics of Inclusion
In Arizona, regulations govern the inclusion programs that outline the mandates and practices for the continuum of the program. These are often considered the statutory preferences that are expected to override the traditional education setup. They are implemented through the different school districts under a predefined mandate. For instance, students with disabilities are expected to attend their neighborhood school in chronologically age-appropriate general classrooms. Further, disabled students should have individualized learning objectives that should mirror the standards in place. This program aims to ensure that students experience a curriculum as similar as possible to the one taught in general schools. Besides, students should be provided with specially designed instructions and support that will help them succeed academically. Stakeholder involvement in creating an inclusive environment is prompt if there is to be a long-term influence on people’s perceptions. Stakeholders throughout the process of inclusion include all students, classroom teachers, and special needs, educators. Similarly, there should be the engagement of policymakers, local populations, and religious groups who should work with the focus groups for advocates of inclusion of special children.
Drivers for Inclusion and Consequences to Stakeholders
The United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes that persons with disabilities have a right to education. Besides, the group has a right to equal opportunities without discrimination which forms the basis for an inclusive education system. This mandate provides that students with disabilities require maximized academic and social development just like their peers. However, inclusion goes beyond adherence to the mandates of the international body. Students benefit in that students with disabilities add to the diversity in the classroom. They bring new strengths and systemic capabilities that promote education within the general classroom.
On the other hand, the students with disabilities can do what is considered normal within the regular classroom environment. This process has been proven to inspire better performance as these students strive to meet the higher expectations set by their teachers and peers. Moreover, policymakers and educators view inclusion as a benchmark of the progress made in building effective learning environments. Finally, society sees inclusion as a gateway to integrated societies that taps into the talents of everyone.
Proponents of inclusion sites that include students with special needs in the general classroom allow those mentioned above to learn social skills from their non-disabled peers. The latter will, in turn, grow to accept human differences, making them more accepting members of society. Parents believe that removing students from regular classroom sessions deprives their experience of the same curriculum that their peers are subjected to. Besides, pull-out programs have been ineffective in providing the special needs group with efficient services. On the other hand, policymakers view inclusion as legal protection for the disabled, which they consider a minority. Opponents of inclusion cite that the practice will deny the disabled students one-on-one interaction with the educator. Besides, general educators face enough challenges dealing with the non-disabled lot, and inclusion would only increase the workload. While inclusion might be considered less expensive than having special needs education facilities, those against the move dim it ineffective and lacking. Finally, there are concerns over the disruptions of the school calendar, especially as the special needs students acclimatize to the new environment.
Stakeholder Responsibilities- Individual Level
As an educational structure, inclusion encourages more parent participation, especially since the environment is packaged as a co-taught classroom. The goals for the child are communicated, and a learning style is adopted that involves the parents. Expectations are that teachers should primarily focus on placing a heterogeneous population of students in a regular classroom. They are expected to work on their competencies and attitudes if inclusion is to be successful (Lindsay, Proulx, Scott & Thomson, 2013). On competencies, educators need to adopt a multidimensional model for learning, motivation, and regulation that will help in achieving better student integration. There should be ongoing educators’ development programs to improve the competencies during the inclusion process. Family members of students with disabilities should be involved through a family-professional partnership. This will see those family members participate in the development of their child’s individualized education program. Involving the non-disabled students can help improve the individual student’s strengths while making the same students more confident, especially in their interaction. Finally, society’s role would be to help these children to think about their long-term futures. These would motivate said students and help them work with a bigger picture in mind.
Stakeholder Responsibility- Social, Civic, and Global Level
Both the local and global communities have a significant role to play if inclusion is to be made possible. It is noteworthy that most national statistics exclude children with disabilities. As a result, this minority becomes almost invisible to policymakers, service providers, and the general public. Furthermore, there is a general lack of support for the families of children with disabilities. Often, institutional care is prescribed, further alienating these children and their families. Even worse, these children and their families are faced with stigma, especially when their children are excluded from social activities and restricted to special needs schools. Society is lacking in its approach toward inclusion, necessitating the adoption of remedies (Trucano, 2017). For instance, society should spearhead support campaigns to raise awareness of the rights of children with disabilities. There should be integrated efforts to help increase public acceptance of the inclusion of special needs students in general schools (Jeffries, 2018). Furthermore, there should be a greater investment into community services that help reach families with disabled students.
The local communities and their leaders should be at the forefront in encouraging inclusion. For instance, they should support innovations and technologies that help make the lives of children with disabilities easier. They should liaise with experts to create policies that help with assistive technologies that will ensure these students can be more independent while at school. There should be advocacy in place that will push the government to deliver on the promises made to teachers, parents, and students. Furthermore, there should be a push for the effective identification of disabilities at an early age so that special care is not delayed. Just in stride, relevant authorities should help parents with special needs children identify high-quality resources that reflect best practices. Besides, there should be family support groups that help parents amalgamate to the changes involved with enrolling their children in special needs schools. There should be valid support group networks that help everyone make valuable connections. As a community, there is a need to help identify the potential of children with disabilities and their integration into the mainstream job market.
Education reforms continue to evolve in focus, with the current wave being geared towards inclusive learning environments. The goal is to improve the outcomes for students with disabilities by ensuring that the schools meet their needs and reach their maximum potential in the general school setup. Provisional benchmarking has shown great uptake of the principles of inclusivity even in the face of discontent, especially amongst educators. Specifically, there are concerns that the regular education classroom cannot satisfactorily provide for the group’s educational needs even with supplementary aids and services. There is a need for continuous improvement, monitoring, and training if the program benefits all students. Concisely, inclusion should be an underlying philosophy for all learning institutions. This new outlook provides a unique opportunity for students, teachers, and all those involved to provide all our children with equal educational experiences.
Jeffries, R. (2018). Diversity, equity, and inclusivity in contemporary higher education (1st ed.). IGI Publisher.
Lindsay, S., Proulx, M., Scott, H., & Thomson, N. (2013). Exploring teachers’ strategies for including children with autism spectrum disorder in mainstream classrooms. International Journal Of Inclusive Education, 18(2), 101-122. Web.
Trucano, M. (2017). Innovative Educational Technology Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Childhood Education, 93(5), 364-367. Web.