The Inclusion vs. exclusion debate has raged on for decades and has reached new heights in recent years. Special needs parents fight for inclusion in the classroom as an avenue toward inclusion in society, and non-special needs parents worry about discipline problems and disruptions within a learning environment. Before tackling the grievances on both sides, a brief history helps to understand the current laws and how they came about.
Before the EAHCA (Education for All Handicapped Children Act) of 1975, special needs children faced discrimination and exclusion. Public schools accepted only one out of five children with special needs. Many states excluded children with specific special needs: blind, deaf, emotionally disturbed, or mentally deficient. More than 1 million special needs children had no access to public education. Many were institutionalized and given minimal care but no education or rehabilitation (US Dept. of Education). Those who entered public school received little or ineffective instruction to become independent.
The EAHCA ensures that special needs children receive education in the “least restrictive environment” that allows children to interact with non-special needs peers. IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) of 1990 updated special needs education to include plans that fit individual student … Continue reading..