Last fall, groups who favor placing disabled students in regular classrooms faced opposition from an unlikely quarter: parents like Norette Travis, whose daughter Valerie has autism.
Valerie had already tried the mainstreaming approach that the disability-advocacy groups were supporting. After attending a preschool program for special-needs students, she was assigned to a regular kindergarten class. But there, her mother says, she disrupted class, ran through the hallways and lashed out at others — at one point giving a teacher a black eye.
“She did not learn anything that year,” Ms. Travis recalls. “She regressed.”
As policy makers push to include more special-education students into general classrooms, factions are increasingly divided. Advocates for the disabled say special-education students benefit both academically and socially by being taught alongside typical students. Legislators often side with them, arguing that mainstreaming is productive for students and cost-effective for taxpayers.
Some teachers and administrators have been less supportive of the practice, saying that they lack the training and resources to handle significantly disabled children. And more parents are joining the dissenters. People like Ms. Travis believe that mainstreaming can actually hinder the students it is intended to help. Waging a battle to preserve older policies, these parents are demanding segregated teaching environments — including separate schools.
More on from the Wall Street Journal on Mainstreaming.
Joanne has more.
NPR (Larry Abramson): Two years ago, Jacob Micheletti was diagnosed with autism. His parents say Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has transformed their son from a boy who was retreating into darkness into a precocious, gregarious kid. Jake’s father, Joe Micheletti, who works for the state of New Jersey, assumed the family’s insurance company would cover … Continue reading Family Wins Suit for Autistic Son’s Health Care
Emily Bazelon: Caitlyn & Marguerite sat knee to knee in a sunny room at the Hawks Camp in Park City, Utah. On one wall was a white board with these questions: What’s your favorite vacation and why? What’s your favorite thing about yourself? If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Caitlyn, who … Continue reading What Autistic Girls Are Made Of
Daniel Golden: Paul McGlone, an iron worker, and his wife, Tricia, became worried in 2006 that their autistic son knew fewer letters in kindergarten than he had in preschool. When the East Islip school district refused their request for at-home tutoring by an autism specialist, they exercised their right under federal special-education law to an … Continue reading Schools Beat Back Demands for Special Ed Services
Emmet Cole: Children with autism are often described as robotic: They are emotionless. They engage in obsessive, repetitive behavior and have trouble communicating and socializing. Now, a humanoid robot designed to teach autistic children social skills has begun testing in British schools. Known as KASPAR (Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics), the $4.33 million … Continue reading Using a Robot to Teach Human Social Skills
Robert Tomsho: When Eva Loeffler walked into her daughter Isabel’s classroom at Waukee Elementary School on Dec. 15, 2004, she says a male guidance counselor was trying to contain the shrieking 8-year-old by wrapping his arms around hers in a restraint hold. Isabel, suffering from autism and other disabilities, had a history of aggressive behavior, … Continue reading When Discipline Starts a Fight: Pressured to Handle Disabled Children, A School Tries Restraints
Click for a larger version The recent Wall Street Journal article “Mainstreaming Trend Tests Classroom Goals” by John Hechinger included some useful charts along with a look at Key US Special Education Legislation: 1966—Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Amendments): Creates Bureau of Education of the Handicapped. Establishes federal grants to help educate special-needs students with … Continue reading Key Special Education Legislation & School Climate
Susan Brink: The public school enrollment of autistic children, whether born into privileged or impoverished circumstances, has gone from a trickle to a flood. Their legal rights are crashing up against strapped school budgets. Under two federal laws — the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act, both passed in the 1970s and … Continue reading Students’ rights versus limited means: Special Needs Children and School Budgets
Paul Soglin: I met with some special education teachers on Tuesday and wish to share my observations about the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). These are my observations and conclusions, not theirs. For the 1996-97 school year the State of Wisconsin paid 40.223% of the cost of special education. For 2006-2007 the state paid 28%. … Continue reading Strangling Wisconsin Education With Underfunded Special Ed
Nichole Schweitzer: As principal of Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), the state’s first virtual K-8 school, I see on a daily basis the benefits a standards-based virtual education provides for students from around the state. Every student has unique learning needs. Some students learn best by reading, others by listening and still others by doing. In … Continue reading Virtual Schools Are Right for Some Families
AAMR’s name change draws applause from professional community and people living with a developmental disability Washington, DC (November 2, 2006)-The American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR), a 130-year old association representing developmental disability professionals worldwide, has changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), establishing a new standard in disability … Continue reading World’s Oldest Organization on Intellectual Disability Has a Progressive New Name
Karen Rivedal: Madison educators said people must be careful not to label all special education students as violent just because the suspect in Friday’s shooting of a rural Wisconsin principal was in special education classes Special education is broadly defined, they noted. It can be any kind of mental or physical disability that affects a … Continue reading ‘Special education’ label covers wide variety of students
Channel3000: When it comes to educating children, parents play a crucial role outside of school. But Rose Helms, whose child, Michael, has autism, wants to take her influence inside the classroom. This is why there was a special guest in Michael Helms’ special education class on Wednesday. The guest was Art Phillips, an Evansville school … Continue reading Mother Hopes to Educate School Board on Special Needs Students
The following story from the April 13, Appleton Post-Crescent reports on a school district in Wisconsin that is actually adding staff to both gifted and special education. News-Record staff writer NEENAH � The equivalent of four teachers will be added to the Neenah Joint School District next year to enhance its special education, and gifted … Continue reading Neenah schools add staff to special ed, gifted-talented program