To Segregate or not to Segregate?

In the 1800s institutions and asylums were the only way for the disabled to be educated. These were the main educational options until the 1900s when “special day schools” were established. Then in the 1950s and 1960s parents started to want their children to have access to education through public schools. Their argument was based on civil rights for the disabled. Because of this The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (PL 94-142) was passed and it mandated that all children, regardless of their disability, “had the right to a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.” It has been many years since this Act was passed and over the years the dividing line between the nondisabled and the disabled in schools has become more and more blurred. Many are arguing the idea of educating disabled children and non-disabled children in the same exact classroom. This has been a hot topic amongst many public schools. There are a wide variety of opinions on this issue because there are many advantages and disadvantages both to the disabled children and the non-disabled children.bw-hall

There are many benefits towards having the disabled children learn along sides with the non-disabled children. The major benefit that the disabled may receive is the important life skill of socialization. In the current world, people are expected to know how to converse with one another. Because they learn how to socialize they can meet new people and make new friends that can last a lifetime. Another advantage of placing children with special needs in the same classroom is that they are in a much more natural and normal setting than they would be. Previously they were in separate classrooms where the standards were a lot lower than where the non-disabled children are where standards are held much higher. This gives the children with special needs the opportunity to go above and beyond what is expected of them academically. They are met with new challenges in this combined classroom and some may be able to overcome these challenges.6387535b9e26aafbfcb02593144dac14

The non-disabled children can also benefit from having special needs children in the same classroom as them. Mostly it teaches the non-disabled about the great diversity of the nation which we live in. It also teaches them empathy. They learn to be aware of the things they are saying. For example a common phrase most kids use to describe something strange or something they do not like is retarded. By having the disabled children in the same classroom as the non-disabled the non-disabled can develop characteristics like sympathy, compassion, appreciation, and responsiveness. Lastly, the non-disabled may also form meaningful relationships with the special needs children that can last a lifetime.untitled

Although there are advantages for the disabled children there are a lot of concerns about the disabled being in the same classroom as the non-disabled. Many traditional classrooms have teachers that have not had the proper training to deal with the disabled. They do not know the proper way to assess different situations and they also may have an unrealistic standard for the disabled children to meet. A lot of individuals believe placing disabled children in the same classroom as the non-disabled is an easy way for public schools to save money in their budget by limiting special education services. As a result, disabled children may not receive the specialized education they need.

Not only can disabled children be at a disadvantage in the same classroom setting as the non-disabled, but also non-disabled children can be met with disadvantages. Teachers often have to give the disabled children more of their time while teaching. This leaves the non-disabled children farther behind and with sometimes little to no help. Teachers have to take extra time out of their day to modify the lesson plan for the disabled. For example, if the class is learning about the solar system, the modified lesson for the disabled may be to color a picture of the solar system. This could provide a great distraction for the non-disabled and also put the non-disabled further behind in their education. Also, placing the non-disabled in the same classroom as the disabled may also lead the non-disabled children to develop a negative attitude towards the special needs children, particularly if they feel as if the non-disabled children are “receiving more attention from the teacher.”untitled (2)

I recently talked to a Special Needs Nurse that was hired by a public school to accompany the special needs children. Although she loves her job she believes placing the disabled and the non-disabled in the same classroom is a mistake. Every day she accompanies the same children from class to class and she said every day these children have outbursts in class. They can be as subtle as mumbling or as extreme as screaming. Whether it is a subtle distraction throughout the class or an extreme one she has seen firsthand how it places the other students farther and farther behind.imagesZVAJXAH7

After hearing her story I believe the disabled and the non-disabled should not be placed in the same classroom. There are expectations that have to be met by the non-disabled and it is unreasonable to believe that the disabled may meet these expectations. However, social interactions between the disabled and non-disabled are very important. It is a good way for the special needs children to develop social skills and also for the non-disabled to learn characteristics such as empathy and compassion. These social interactions can happen on the playground by putting their recesses at the same time or through a reading or tutoring program through the school! Overall, the disadvantages placed on the non-disabled greatly outweigh the advantages received by the disabled, therefore, they should not be in the same classroom to learn.

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