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Integrating children with special needs 1

Sarah Beglen
Ana Maria Brannan and Emine Yildirim
September 24, 2013

The Chicago Tribunes article State Studying New Regulations for Special

Education focuses on the proposed changes of the size of special education classes.
In June of 2013 Illinois is considering ditching limits on class sizes, according to
state legislation. Currently, a special education class is limited to having 5-15
students per classroom, whereas the general education classes have around 25
students. Another proposed idea going hand-in-hand with the first is state
education officials may end the requirement that a teachers aide be assigned when
special education classes exceed certain limits (Rado.) Breaking the barriers and
the thought of letting go of the restriction sparked a controversy. On one side of the
issue, advocates argue both disabled and non-disabled students will benefit from
the merging. The non-disabled students can learn to appreciate and not judge
people different from them and so can the disabled students. An advocate in favor
of the change in legislation, State School Superintendent Christopher Koch, says,
Most of the states special education children do not have severe impairments and
therefore should be in traditional classes as much as possible (Rado). Having prior
experience as a special education instructor he believes with the restriction on the
class sizes, the schools are focusing too much on data when they should focus on the
students individual goals. On the contrary, the increase of class sizes thus cuts
special education teachers and aides. Some argue the officials are taking advantage

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of the special education students to make cutbacks, While acknowledging some
school districts face serious financial challenges, state education officials say that is
not the key motive behind the push for change (Rado). The trend is toward
inclusion, so the idea is most of the special education students will be in general
education courses, so the need of special education teachers is lower. A Chicago
special education advocate, Rodney Estvan, opposes the proposed change. He looks
at an economic standpoint and argues wealthier communities will be more likely to
sue if they oppose the proposal, so the area will not be as affected. Poorer
communities, however, cannot fight back with the threat of a lawsuit therefore their
communities will be the targets.

In class we have gone over the IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities

Education Act. This law ensures that all handicapped children have available to
thema free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and
related services designed to meet their needs (Hulett). IDEA also provides
protection to the parents and the children with special needs. The program
participates in further research to strengthen their services. There are six pillars of
the IDEA: the individualized education program (IEP), the guarantee of a free
appropriate public education (FAPE), the requirement of education in the least
restrictive educational environment (LRE), appropriate evaluation, active
participation of parent and student in the educational mission, and procedural
safeguards for all participants. Focusing in on the least restrictive educational
environment, the IDEA states students that are handicapped must be in the same
learning environment with children who are not handicapped, Illinois State

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Legislative could point to this information. The mainstreaming and integrating
of handicapped children in the non-handicapped children classes is at the discretion
of each childs individualized education program.

I believe that if the childs IEP allows inclusion in the non-disabled childrens

classroom, then it should be encouraged. At my high school in the suburbs of

Chicago, it was evident we had a strong special education department. I can attest
to the fact I shared different classes like gym, art, music and in some cases math,
with students who have disabilities. Like the article mentioned, the integration
would help out both the disabled children, by being included, and the non-disabled
children by being taught patience and empathy (Rodo). The transition of
integrating children with special needs into the mainstream classes should be for
certain classes that they are capable of and in effect keeps the same amount of
special education teachers and aides employed.

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Reference List:
Hulett, Kurt E. Legal Aspects of Special Education. Pearson.
Rado, Diane. (2013, June, 3). State Studying New Regulations for Special Education.
The Chicago Tribune.