One of the primary goals of being an educator is meeting the needs of every student, whether they have mental and physical disabilities or not. I believe it is ethical to mainstream students with exceptional needs, when appropriate. There are, however, people who think that including students with these special needs would bring the whole class average down. I believe that the focus of inclusion should be on the student, not the classroom as a whole, as other people would. Willis, a philosopher from SagePub said, “Helping students with special needs feel ‘ownership’ and a part of the school community is a necessary component of successful inclusion (9)”. This means that the educator needs to help each student build self-esteem, and self-worth, while providing a positive experience for the student. Just because a student has disabilities does not mean they should be excluded from the classroom. They may, however, need a little extra time learning with an adaptive curriculum. This related to the fieldwork experience described above in the sense that the two young men needed to have an adaptive curriculum but were not completely excluded from the classroom and their peers.
There are many laws that were endorsed to help clarify the meaning of “having a disability.” According to the No Child Left Behind Act and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), all students should receive the same, fair education. This also entitles students to have the same academic standards and continue to offer an equal education. However, students with these special needs are being mainstreamed into classes that they cannot succeed in. It is often difficult for children with special needs to receive the positive social interaction they need to grow and learn as a child. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that was enacted to prohibit discrimination against disabilities.
Mainstreaming is used to describe the amount of time each day that a child with special needs participated in a program with peers that did not have special needs. “Although mainstreaming is a far better alternative than a segregated or self-contained setting it is still not very inclusive (Willis 7).” Inclusion is “a value that supports the rights of all children, regardless of their diverse abilities, to participate actively in natural settings within their community (Willis 10).” This requires a team approach and commitment from all team members including the general education teachers, special education teachers, administrators, assistants, and the child and their families. Without the help of all of these people, mainstreaming students will not be successful.
Reverse mainstreaming is when children without special needs are placed in a program or educational setting that consists of