I recently received an email from a school district administrator stating that a student with a disability being placed in a special day class (SDC) is "inclusive" because they have access to "general education academics in areas where they show strengths."
While there are SO many issues with this administrator's statement and innate beliefs, for the purpose of this post I'm focusing on the idea that a student with a disability has to show an academic strength to be considered for inclusive education.
Students in SDCs inherently do not have access to general education curricula. "Alternate," "alternative," "functional" ... whatever you call it, SDCs teach concepts and skills that are not aimed at grade level academics. In this student's case, the student was placed in a segregated classroom that combined grades Kindergarten through third and had already been in that classroom for three years.
How is a student supposed to show "strength" in an academic area if they've never had access to general education academics in the first place? The student in question, who is currently in third grade, is expected to show at least third grade skills in order to be considered for inclusion, and they have never had the chance to learn those skills. They have been set up to be segregated and excluded for their entire life.
Let's pretend I'm a high school student wanting to go to college after graduation. I've researched which colleges offer the majors I want, which ones are affordable, and which ones my friends are attending. I've decided to apply to a school that fits my goals and needs, and in looking through their application I see that I must have already shown academic aptitude at a college level.
What if my high school doesn't offer college-level courses?
What if I'm a hard working student who doesn't get good grades?
What if I don't have the accommodations I need to show my knowledge?
What if there are other things hindering me from being "college ready?"
I might as well give up, right? What do we think about the third grade student who is facing a similar situation?
"If you are inclusive then your students will be inclusive." - Inclusion Starts Now, 2022