General Education

In 1950 all American school children were in general education. With the enactment of special education law in the 1970s a legal boundary was drawn between general education and special education. Great gains were made in special education policy, administration, programming and technology.

Now, however, the costs of that division are mounting and national policy debates point to diminishing returns. The need is to integrate general education and special education across the board.

There is a great cost to having teachers “refer” to special education when children only walk down the hall for help. Time spent in meetings could be spent on helping children rather than “waiting for failure.”

General education teachers need to expand their views of teaching to include special education approaches. Special education teachers might be more effective as teacher consultants.

No Child Left Behind has brought the need for integration to the surface. Does it matter if a child is “in special education” when the whole district is responsible for pupil graduation?

Least Restrictive Environment and other such safeguards can be incorporated into general education policies where remedial support is needed.

Notions of Response to Intervention suggest the line between general education and special education is fading out in real schools.

IDEA would be difficult to drop. It could be replaced by a general act to retain parents rights to ensure their children receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

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