Monday, March 07, 2016

SPECIAL ED - More Inclusive Schools, Good/Bad?

"LA schools grow more inclusive, but at what cost?" PBS NewsHour 3/1/2016


SUMMARY:  The Los Angeles school system has come far in the last ten years, especially in terms of inclusivity.  In 2003, only 54 percent of LA's disabled students were taught alongside their nondisabled peers; today, it’s more than 90 percent.  But some parents worry that general education schools won’t provide the specialized attention their children require.  John Tulenko of Education Week reports.

JOHN TULENKO (NewsHour):  In Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school system, it took a class-action lawsuit filed in 1993 to bring attention to the failures in special education.

Teachers weren’t trained, records weren’t kept, and thousands of students were not receiving services.

Sharyn Howell, the district’s special education director, says progress has been made.

SHARYN HOWELL, Special Education Director, LA Unified School District:  I think we have come a long ways.  Even at that point in time in LAUSD and in other school districts, special education was still thought of as this was a very separate group of students and most of them were in segregated classes someplace.

JOHN TULENKO:  But not anymore.  Today, many of the problems have been resolved, especially when it comes to inclusion.  In 2003, about half of all students with disabilities were taught alongside their non-disabled peers for the majority of the day.  Now it’s 90 percent for students with learning or speech and language disabilities.

For other special education students, there’s still a ways to go.  Seventeen-year-old Leo Villegas, who has Down syndrome, spends most of his day in a separate classroom.  But even that’s beginning to change.

ROSIE VILLEGAS, Parent:  I want Leo to be included in the community.  I don’t want Leo to be segregated all the time.  I mean, come on.

JOHN TULENKO:  Rosie Villegas is Leo’s mother.

ROSIE VILLEGAS:  I want other students or other people to see Leo and accept Leo the way he is, even if it doesn’t work, to try.

JOHN TULENKO:  At his mother’s insistence, Leo is in a few general education classes like economics, but not without support.

Monet Gothard is with Leo all day, helping with his behavior and class work.

MONET GOTHARD, Behavior Intervention Therapist:  I was reading a story to him, and then he was answering reading comprehension questions.

Humm.... Off topic comment:  I wonder if Republicans need a Behavior Intervention Therapist?

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