10 Reasons to Support Inclusive School Communities for ALL Students

10 Reasons to Support Inclusive School Communities for ALL Students

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Introduction

Inclusive school communities are educational settings in which students with disabilities have opportunities to participate and receive support in all aspects of school life alongside peers who do not have disabilities. In an inclusive system, special educators, specialized instructional support personnel, general educators, and other education personnel work together to address the needs of students with disabilities. By collaborating, these educators better support the learning and participation of all students. Furthermore, research demonstrates that a learning community is better, richer, and more effective when students with disabilities are full participants.

The precedent for inclusive education was set in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) clause of Public Law 94-142, originally passed by Congress in 1975. The most recent version of this law, known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was enacted in 2004. Although many strides have been made in realizing the intent of the law, schools often still treat inclusive education as a new and challenging way of supporting students with disabilities. Too often, separateness and exclusion can define the educational experience, particularly for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Despite the slow rate of implementation and the challenges involved, educators, students, and families have found many compelling reasons to support inclusive education for students with and without disabilities. Here are 10 of them.