A least restrictive environment requires that each local education agency ensures to the maximum extent appropriate that children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled. The Texas Education Agency states that “special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”
Kendall’s turning five next month. I can’t believe it. Time flies…and keeps on flying. My thoughts on the above topic have evolved greatly in these last four years. I was a general education teacher for five years right out of college. I never in my life had a “special education” college course or class. In my first few years teaching at a Title One school, my eyes were opened quite a bit. I never had an entire room of children on grade level. In my teaching career, I always had to individualize my lesson plans for my kids. I was taught that was best practice. I never passed out worksheets and gave the same spelling list to my class. I just didn’t. I couldn’t.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t understand what the push back is! I never really had any multiply handicapped children in my third grade classroom. I had kids with emotional disabilities, kids with learning disabilities, kids with “dyslexia.” I would like to believe that if I did have a child with multiple disabilities, I would have embraced the challenges to find a learning style and form of evaluation that worked for that child. My job was to educate children. All children. I expect the same from teachers for my own kids now.
I do understand that teachers are overwhelmed. Often times, they don’t have the support they need to complete all of their tasks. They spend too much time getting kids to pass a test….blah, blah, blah. But the bottom line is: they are teachers. They get paid to be teachers, and if they don’t like the job or the work involved, they need to retire or find a new career path! Period.
So for me, it’s really a no brainer. Kendall is turning five. The law says she can go to her home school and be educated with her nondisabled peers. So, that’s exactly what is going to happen. I have a meeting scheduled before her ARD at the end of the month. If her present levels of performance lead us to goals that are academic (and by that I mean, in line with the TEKS “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills” for kindergarteners) there shouldn’t be any problem. Making sure she has goals that don’t set her up for failure is my priority.
I plan to be pretty specific in her IEP on a variety of things, and I am hopeful our ARD committee will see things my way.
But we all know that the best laid plans don’t always go the way you expect. There are a lot of things that factor into the success of Kendall’s inclusion. She has to have administrators and teachers in her new school that share our vision for Kendall. I’m not worried about the other kids. Kids embrace Kendall. That’s obvious pretty much everywhere we go. Usually, it’s the adults that hold them back.
I won’t stand for Kendall being left out, discriminated against, coddled, or blending into the background. I expect her to be treated like every other five year old at school! And as of this moment, my gut tells me this is doable. We’ve come a long way so far, and I just know she will progress leaps and bounds side by side her non-disabled peers! (with in class supplementary aids and services of course).