· What does the future hold for education?
· What do schools and districts need to do to prepare for the future?
· What will this future require of me?
I went to Boston to attend the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) conference and thought that I needed to think about these questions as they pertain to our organization. Since CEC “is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted,” how do these questions pertain to the field of special education? My views are from a classroom teacher’s point of view and you might have a different one from another perspective, so feel free to share it with me.
What does the future hold for special education?
I feel that Special Education is changing drastically. Due to NCLB, many of our students are mainstreamed back into regular classes with support from resource teachers. I think this is great if the students can be successful and this is the least restrictive environment. In order for this to take place though, there needs to be a lot of collaboration between the general education teacher and the special education teacher. I feel that there needs to be more training to help both teachers learn how to collaborate, a better definition of both roles and shared expectations from both. I believe there will always be a need for self contained classes for our students with more severe disabilities and needs but I’m not sure I see them in the regular schools. Many of these self contained students need more functional living skills than are taught in a general education classroom. I feel the new legislation is pushing special education back into the dark ages where special needs students are segregated.
Unfortunately, my self contained students needed to be mainstreamed with general education students at least two periods out of seven each day and the courses available were pretty limited. Many schools no longer have home economics classes and the shop class with tools could be dangerous for them. This left them to take PE and music many times in four years and sometimes it was the same class over and over but they couldn’t receive credit for taking the same class more than once. This caused some of my students to take classes like psychology, law educations, sports marketing, broadcast journalism and film criticism. As you can imagine, many general education teachers were not happy about this turn of events and had a lot of trouble making accommodations for my students.
I have a really big concern about what is going to happen to special education. What has been happening over the past few years due to NCLB has really been detrimental to our students. It doesn’t seem like the people in leadership positions are looking out for what is in the best interest of the students but instead, what is best for the school so the leadership doesn’t lose their jobs. I don’t know what the answers are but this slow decline in taking care of our special needs students will come to a point where no one can ignore this problem or just think by including them in with the general education population will suddenly cure them.
photo credit: Future or Bust! by Vermin Inc