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An inclusive approach to the Common Core

THURSDAY, MAY 01, 2014 10:15 AM

Special education is a tricky subject for policy makers to figure out. How can teachers properly educate children with and without disabilities at the same time? For a while, the answer was segregation. It's like that famous scene in "Forrest Gump" when Forrest is told he should go to a special school completely apart from other students. However, like Forrest's mother believed, not all parents think that segregation is the best way to help their kids. For this reason, many are pushing for inclusive classrooms that bring together students of all abilities. 

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a relatively new system of educational goals. As schools implement them, policy makers have a unique opportunity to change the landscape of U.S. education. While teachers alter their lessons to align them with the Standards, they can also make changes to include students of all abilities.

Common Core and inclusion
The goal of the CCSS is to increase the rigor of learning for all students in order to better prepare them for college and a fulfilling career. The Standards apply to students of all abilities, and the curricula states develop around them should be challenging for everyone. 

According to NPR, Samuel Habib was born with cerebral palsy, but his parents insisted in enrolling him in inclusive classes. Now, at the age of 14, Samuel is ready to enter high school. His father believes Samuel has excelled past societal expectations because he went to school with all sorts of students.

"That inclusion in school transfers to the relationships and the support he gets from friends outside of school," Dan Habib, Samuel's father and an inclusion advocate with the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability, told the source. "He's also had a tremendous impact on his peers. His peers now see disability as part of the natural diversity of our world."

Habib also noted that he wants his son to complete high school, get a diploma, go to college and have a good career. He thinks his son will rise to the challenge of a tough education if he works with kids of all abilities. Habib said Samuel will be more likely to believe in himself if the system expects him to work hard and succeed.

Teaching inclusively
While offering inclusive classroom opportunities to students with all abilities may be very beneficial to kids' futures, teachers and administrators are still working on ways to accomplish that goal. Some schools offer inclusive classes with two teachers. Presumably, one teacher has a degree in special education and can offer expertise on the subject. They create lesson plans together that present multiple levels of challenge to the students.