The “ship of fools” was used to maintain order along the coastline. Undesirables, including people with disabilities, were rounded up and put on a ship which sailed from port to port. Residents of the cities where the ship landed could buy tickets to board the ship to stare, ogle, and delight in the antics of the “fools” on board. Later, the ship’s crew would unload the passengers at the last port, leaving them to fend for themselves in a strange community (Disability is Natural).
Since the beginning of recorded history, one group or another has taken it upon themselves to alleviate the ‘problem’ within society of dealing with people who have different disabilities. So, as a society are we accepting the undesirables or unloading them on people who strive to solve the “problem”?
Under federal special education law, (the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)) students with disabilities have the right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Inclusive education is becoming more abundant in public education. Exclusion and segregation are more than impending violations of special education law. Children deserve the absolute best that we can give them and the moral code should not be laid on the line.
Inclusion basically means, that children with disabilities are being educated in their home-school (they would attend the school even if they didn’t have a disability) in age-appropriate regular education classrooms, where their individual services and supports are provided in these classrooms for both the students and their teachers, and these students are able to participate fully with the members of their school communities in academic and extra-curricular activities.
Inclusion does not mean that these students are spending the bulk of their day in a special education room, only being included for physical education and art, attending regular classes and being repeatedly pulled out for services all through the day, or sitting in the back of the classroom with an instructional assistant (aide). Inclusion means that these students are included in every aspect of their academic career.
In classrooms and schools inclusion is working. Students with disabilities are included, supported, and being educated in regular education classrooms. Gone are the days of “ship of fools” and the “undesirables” are now being included and not left to fend for themselves in an unknown community.
Answer to last week’s word problem for the article Cerebro…Cervello…Gehirn…Cerveau…Brain:
Let enough air out of the tires to lower the truck.