What Does Inclusion Look Like at Your School?
I received this guest post from "Don't Know Where to Start", a public school parent in Seattle:
Last week the Seattle Times carried an article about upcoming changes to special education in Seattle Public Schools, "Special education reforms would likely include classes taught in pairs" (Wed 30 April). The article says that “As a task force begins this spring to revamp Seattle Public Schools' approach to special education, it's likely many classrooms around the district will begin to look more like Eckstein's” where children who qualify for special ed services are in general education classrooms taught by two teachers, one general ed and one special ed. Currently this model only exists at the kindergarten level.
However if you read the School Board Work Session on the Student Assignment Plan and Special Education, April 30th, there is no mention of this co-teaching model at all.
The co-teaching model should be extended beyond these specialized kindergarten contexts because, according to the external review of the special ed programming in SPS and according to the instructional leaders survey for the strategic plan, there is currently not enough support for general education teachers to meet the needs of children who are differently-abled in their classrooms. I wonder if general education teachers who read this blog could comment. Currently as many as 30% of children who receive special education are doing so in contexts that violate their rights to the least restrictive environments, yet even for those who are in general education classrooms outside of those co-teaching contexts, “least restrictive” can translate into “sit and wait until someone can individualize …”.
Co-teaching may be an expensive fix but it could be the only realistic way, in the short run, to address the situation and the realities that general ed teachers are saying that there is a gap in their ability to individualize effectively in the short run. It would be good to hear from others about the inclusion atmosphere in your schools and PTAs and where leadership on this important matter could be strengthened.