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Common Issues and Responses within an Individualized Education Program

He/She will do better with kids like him/her

 

No, he will do better in a challenging environment.

Who are kids like him? Siblings are like him. Neighbor children and cousins seem to do okay with him. Kids like that will be in the classroom.

 

We just don't want him/her to fail

 

Newsflash: we all fail now and again; it is called learning

 

Perhaps the greatest flaw of the segregated special education system is just that; we allow our general education students to fail and expect them to learn from their mistakes; special education students usually are give tasks at which they won't fail or have adults intervene to prevent mistakes. Learning does not take place with either of these scenarios. Ever.

 

He/She will hold others back

 

First and foremost; it doesn't matter. This may sound shocking, but there are many kids whose behavior, attitude and ability take a disproportionate portion of a teacher's time. Our children with visible disabilities, such as Down syndrome have the same right to an education as someone who is just plain difficult. And no one is segregated K-12 because he or she is difficult.

 

Secondly, the goal of educating the child with a disability is to facilitate his inclusion in his life, community and surroundings. The best way to do this is to start in pre-school and work from there. Most pre-school children have good and bad moments; strengths and weaknesses. It is in this young, formative time of life that they learn to adapt to one another and to teachers. Delaying entry into inclusion delays adaptation for the child with a disability, his peers and his teachers.

 

Finally, a balance between meeting all students' needs and covering the curriculum is the responsibility of the school, not the parents of any one child. You do not have to solve this challenge. For the teachers who solve it, it is exhilarating, and often rejuvenating to their careers and love of teaching. Let's not deny them this opportunity.

 

I am just thinking of what is best for him/her.

 

This is the single most offensive statement the education community can make to parents. It brings tears to mothers' eyes and quivers to fathers' voices. It is an implication that the parents' request is one outside of consideration for their own child. I can honestly say that I have never heard this statement in the context of a parent requesting a segregated setting. This is reserved for inclusion and puts the parents in the untenable position of defending their own value system and choices.


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