Including children with disabilities at school: good for kids, or good for budgets?

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  • jane Hereford, AZ
    March 26, 2013 4:39 p.m.

    I have 9 kids--some highly gifted (whose needs weren't being met well at school), some quite intelligent but shy, teased, and overlooked. My daughter's 5th grade teacher said, "She's a nice girl, but she'll never go to college." She graduated from Ricks at 18, served a mission, and graduated from the U. of A. During her senior year, she finally realized that if she could submit 1st draft papers and get A's in college, she was probably intelligent. How sad it took so long to overcome the public school conditioning! We chose to home school our younger kids, including a Downs son--with the individualized attention, he has far overachieved anybody's expectations. He gets his inclusion at church activities, on service missions, in Scouts (he's an Eagle), in the community (where he's much loved). He's never had to suffer teasing and bullying. After watching our friends special needs kids at public school, some mainstreamed, some not, we know we did the right thing for him. Public schools can't meet the needs of everyone and it's unrealistic to expect them to.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Feb. 26, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    You are correct, Red Shirt.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 26, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    To "Mom4boys" your child sounds like an exception. The issue is that when you bring mentally handicapped children (meaning they don't learn as fast as the other kids) you will disrupt the learning of the rest of the class.

    You act like segregating kids based on ability level is wrong or bad. What do you think happens in the Honors and AP courses in highschool? What do you think happens in competition leagues? What is wrong about separating kids into ability levels in learning? Are you afraid that a child will have hurt feelings? Please answer the questions if you respond again.

    Mao had the same ideas that you have.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Feb. 26, 2013 7:21 a.m.

    The comments for this article have been reduced to an argument. Each student who has some type of needs out of the range of being able to work independently needs to be assessed according to what is best for him/her, and the classroom. Some children are going to be a unable to cope with their "peers" no matter how well intentioned and well trained the teacher may be. When a child isn't suited for a regular classroom, other options have to be explored.

  • Mom4boys Alpine, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 11:18 p.m.

    Wow! Redshirt, Hitler had some of your same ideas as well....As far as considering the teachers, I had teachers rally to have my son in their class, because of what he contributed. He is extremely intelligent and brought an element to the classroom the teacher could not do without him. As I said earlier, he is a senior, and his past teachers are always contacting us to see how he is progressing and get tears in their eyes as they speak of the special experiences they have had with him. I am always quick to thank them for their unbiased, and caring manor for taking the time with my child. They were never without help from the district, the resource teachers, and myself. It takes a village....I hope your children remain perfect and never have a traumatic brain injury, cancer, or some other ailment that renders them intellectually challenged, because I am willing to bet you would have a complete turnaround in your prejudiced, illogical ideas. Being disabled does NOT mean that someone is not smart, I am quite sure my son could go toe to toe with you in an I.Q. test. Good luck raising geniuses.

  • MIMom Mt Pleasant, MI
    Feb. 25, 2013 8:36 p.m.

    RedShirt, I am saddened by some of your comments as it takes me back to the 1950s. Are we suggesting that all children with any disability sit in the back of the bus? One needs to keep in mind that there is a wide range when it comes to disabilities. Just like there is a wide range of typically developing children. There are children who are beyond the average and need more of a challenge. There are children who are lagging and need more help. This includes both typical and disabled. Teachers have a big job but there is support when done right. You make it sound like anyone who is disabled is automatically a slow learner. Not true. But the point is, we are talking public schools which are afforded to all, its a right of citizenship in this country. If your school isn't providing enough of a challenge for your advanced children don't blame it on a couple of kids in the class who are disabled, or their parents. If you don't like the circumstances change what you have control over. No one is stopping you from enrolling your advanced children into a private school.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    To "Mom4boys" but you cannot deny that having a mentally/emotionally disabled child in a classroom does slow down the learning down for the rest of the classroom.

    My point is that schools already teach to the bottom end, and now there are a few parents who are going to insist that their disabled child be part of the group and be mainstreamed which lowers the standards even more.

    Think of it like this. If your child had a deformity that prevented them from running, would you insist that they be part of the relay track team?

    I have children that are above average, and just being in a mainstream classroom slows their learning, what happens when that classroom has additional burdens on it?

    You say that I am short sighted, yet you ignore the plight of the teacher. Imagine having to come up with ways to occupy the minds of kids the ever expanding range of children. Parents like you insist that the teachers eduate everything between the super smart kids and the disabled. How is a teacher supposed to handle that effectively in a class of 25 kids? At some point they must be segregated.

  • Mom4boys Alpine, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    First of all, Red Shirt, your comment was short sighted and bigoted. I too, have children who are "above average learners", and NEVER by being with disabled children has slowed their learning! If anything, it has increased their ability to feel empathy, raised their intelligence and ability to learn. I dare say, most mom's feel the same way who's children have had the privilege of having my son in their classroom (as has been told to me on several occasions)! I feel bad for kids who are being taught children who are not as smart, should be kept away from them and left to learn how to integrate into society with people like yourself, who have no understanding for the extreme contributions that can be made by those who are different. We as a society, need to come together to find solutions, rather than putting the disabled kids in trailers in the back of the school, like how it was 20 years ago. I have never been one of those mom's who demands my child receive more attention or unreasonable accommodations, but my child certainly has the right to "an appropriate education" just like yours.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    What this article leaves out is the opposite end of the spectrum. There is great effort being made to help those with learning disabilities succeed. But, what about those kids that are above average learners? They are being forced to be mainstreamed, when it their best interests they need to be segregated into learning environments where they can be taught at a more rapid pace.

    Also as has been pointed out, mainstreaming slows down the education of the other kids in a classroom. Why should the education of 25 other kids be slowed down because 1 or 2 parents want their handicapped child to be mainstreamed.

    I have taught handicapped children, and they do best in environments where they can learn with others like them or else with mainstream kids on their own ability levels not age.

  • MIMom Mt Pleasant, MI
    Feb. 25, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    Inclusion is in fact thought of on a case by case basis. That is why there is an IEP for each individual with specific well thought out plans as to how that school experience will play out for the child. It includes what supports are there for teachers. I agree with formerUT that when it is done right it works. But when its not working it is not being done right. I have seen both successful and not successful. Success comes from a cohesive team that works together with the gen ed teacher. The gen ed teacher is not on their own. For example, a resource teacher would work with them as support not to hinder. Success comes from parents who foster understanding within their children that we don't all act the same and sometimes there are reasons for that. Simply understanding that goes a long way. It doesn't mean they shouldn't feel safe in their classroom setting. Peers can be a huge part of the solution instead of working against it. NO they aren't losing out. They are gaining opportunities to cement their own learning and being a leader. Its not just about empathy.

  • Mom4boys Alpine, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    As a Mom with a son with a disability, I find this article does not highlight all the benefits of inclusion. My son is a senior, and we started in kindergarten with inclusion. It was a difficult decision and was not without its challenges, but each year that inclusion took place, the amount of supports my son needed decreased. He now has mainly peer tutors who help him and does not have any behavior problems. Teachers and students alike have ALWAYS loved having him in class and have benefited from his knowledge. When we began with this journey, he had a full time aide (which we negotiated strongly for), and that service was weened as he became more independent. If we do not help these children now, society will pay for it later, at a much higher cost. There are ways to teach in a classroom with a disabled child and not have it interfere with other students. Those teachers who had positive attitudes and realized that having my son benefited their class as much as he benefited from them, were successful and still to this day talk about how much they love him and the experience they had.

  • Mom of Six Northern Utah, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 11:22 p.m.

    Parents of children with disabilities need to be realistic and think not only of their own child but the other mainstream children in the classroom. Is it fair to have a child yelling, pulling down bulletin boards or making it impossible to teach all for inclusion's sake? I don't think so, yet I've seen it happen. I think inclusion should be thought of on a case by case basis. Teaching is a hard enough profession these days, with high expectations and testing as well as the crumbling family unit, teacher's don't need any added stress in the classroom....they just aren't paid enough nor do they have the support they need.

  • formerUT Osawatomie, KS
    Feb. 24, 2013 6:53 p.m.

    Funny that "the cost" is typically used as a reason to NOT include students with disabilities with their "typical" peers. I would agree that, to do it well, inclusion HAS to provide the appropriate supports for students with disabilities and students with out. As one principal of an inclusive school states in Including Samuel "Inclusion is something that can be done very poorly. And once done poorly can then be used as an excuse to not do at all." If only "doing inclusion" to save money--they I would automatically assume it is not being done well. And as for the parents of kids with disabilities: inclusion should NEVER mean that a child is not receiving the services they need. Truly--if inclusion is done well, it should integrate all services the child needs into the inclusive settings. But--much of what is called "inclusion" in our public schools, is not truly what researchers would call "inclusion". Done well--inclusion benefits all students. Done poorly--it doesn't. If anything, this article should emphasize that reality.

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    It can be very hard on a teacher and her class to accomodate some students. For example: Jane needs to go to resource at 9:30 am, so I can't teach anything during the time that child is gone in the areas of math, reading, language arts, and science because they need to be taught what everyone is as they must also take the year-end tests. If you have multiple students in your room, you can feel like a pretzel trying to fit everything in. What happens in my case is that some things are not taught. I rarely have time for health and social studies. It really needs to be fixed, but so far it has only gotten worse. I believe that a special needs student should take a test in language arts or math that is on their level and appropriate to where they are and what help they need. Instead, these students are given double teaching time, while the other students in the class suffer as my hands are tied when these students are gone. It's a hard choice.