Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Inclusive Education: How to be an Advocate for Your Child

Parents may face many challenges when exploring education options in the American public school system — especially if they have a child with special needs. 
For example, how do parents find an education setting that best fits their child’s specific needs? Will the supports they’re seeking for their child be provided by the school? And if not, how do parents advocate for a more suitable placement? Searching for the right education setting for a child with a disability can be challenging, but it’s most effective with research and understanding a few key advocacy strategies.

What Is Inclusive Education?

Years of research and experience tell us that inclusive education — the practice of educating children of all abilities in one classroom — is the gold standard. Many schools, however, still have classrooms where children with disabilities are educated separately from the rest of the student population. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), a federal law originally enacted in 1975 and revised multiple times since, provides guidance for educating children with special needs. Though the word “inclusion” isn’t specifically used in its documents, the law requires that, to the greatest degree possible, children with disabilities should be educated in the “least restrictive environment” alongside their non-disabled peers — that is, in classrooms with children of all abilities.
Providing this type of learning environment, however, is subject to the needs of the student and the ability of the school to meet them. If a child’s learning needs can be met in general education classes, then the school can offer inclusive education. If the school believes it won’t be able to provide the supports a child requires in this type of setting — due to constraints on classroom options, staffing, budget, or resources — then a child can be placed in a “self-contained” (or segregated) classroom. While advocates for childrenwith learning disabilities often support inclusive education — and many parents prefer it — the reality is that you may not always have a choice at the school your child will attend.
If you are looking for this type of placement, ............ READ MORE HERE.

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