Rationale of Inclusive Education
“It is not enough merely to affirm the rights of people with disabilities. We must actively work to make them real in the fabric of modern society. Recognizing that individuals with disabilities have a claim to our respect because they are persons, because they share in the one redemption of Christ, and because they contribute to our society by their activity within it, the Church must become an advocate for and with them. It must work to increase the public's sensitivity toward the needs of people with disabilities and support their rightful demand for justice. Moreover, individuals and organizations at every level within the Church should minister to persons with disabilities by serving their personal and social needs.” (Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities)
The first step to achieving an Inclusive Education System is to understand the philosophy behind it. "Inclusion" is a more profound concept than "Integration".
"Institutional discrimination against disabled people is ingrained throughout the present education system. The data shows that most of the educational provision for disabled children and students remains basically segregative, is dominated by traditionally medically influenced attitudes, and commands a low priority as a whole. As a result, rather than equipping disabled children and young people with the appropriate skills and opportunities to live a full and active adult life, it largely conditions them to accepting a much devalued social role and in so doing condemns them to a lifetime of dependence and subordination." (Colin Barnes)
Social and Moral Preparation
- If students are to learn the social and moral behavior that is typical of their age group, they have to actively experience that behavior in social contexts that are real and typical. These experiences must take place over a long period of time.
Language Development and Cognitive Development
- Language is best developed in situations that are spontaneous and natural, and in which the learner has an opportunity to be an active participant. Appropriate modeling within social contexts is a critical element. This situation is best provided in an inclusive setting.
- Cognitive development is closely associated with language development. Moreover, cognitive development is best fostered within contexts that are stimulating, challenging and natural.
- Functional academics are learned equally as well within integrated settings as they are in segregated settings, if proper support is provided. It is well documented that most of what students learn through direct teaching is consolidated through social interaction with their peers.
Basic Human Needs and Values
- Inclusion also provides for the needs and values of all people as “persons”. All people share the same universal need for love and belonging, fun, freedom, and power over one’s own life. All people value the opportunity to:
- grow and develop
- build self-respect
- feel a sense of belonging
- be a part of a community
- have relationships and mutual support
- make decisions and choices
- take risks and make mistakes
- see themselves and be seen by others as unique and valued.
Benefits to Students without Disabilities
- Being educated along with students with disabilities can provide valuable social, emotional and personal perspectives for students without disabilities. The inclusion of students with disabilities can provide excellent training for all students as future leaders, parents, and teachers.
Best Practices as Suggested by Research
- Chronological Age Placement
- Social Integration
- Functional Curricula (Supplemental Learning Outcomes)
- Systematic Instruction
- Age Appropriate Community Based Instruction
- Parental Involvement
- Integrated Service Delivery
- Transition Planning
- Systematic Program Evaluation