Inclusive Schooling: National and International Perspectives

Inclusive Schooling: National and International Perspectives

Inclusive Schooling: National and International Perspectives

Inclusive Schooling: National and International Perspectives


This book provides new information on how various inclusion policies have been implemented in different schools and school districts in North America and in a range of European countries.

The purpose of inclusion policy is to prevent the marginalization of people who experience unfavorable circumstances in life. It is an approach to the education of students with disabilities that is based on a commitment to what all members of a free society deserve in order to become fully participating members--a fair chance to find a meaningful place in their own communities.

This book is a kind of status report on what inclusive education has achieved and what it may achieve in the future for children and youth with disabilities. It describes the philosophical, legal, and practical terrain covered by inclusion policy in general and inclusive schooling in particular. Contributors assess inclusion policy and suggest ways to reconceptualize it, bringing to their data analysis a depth of experience and knowledge about public schooling in their respective countries.

Although inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classes has been embraced by politicians and educators calling for equal opportunity in our society and is being incorporated into national and international education laws, it continues to be controversial and the debate is sometimes heated. A goal of this book is to shed some light on this debate. Is inclusion mostly about student placement? Are students with disabilities attaining social and learning membership in general classrooms? Have they benefitted from inclusion? How about students without disabilities? What have been the benefits? Must learning take second priority to socialization and friendship? Are teachers getting the training they need? How do parents feel about inclusion programs? How do students feel? What kind of curricular accommodations should be made? These and other questions are addressed.

This volume is based on original papers presented by the contributing authors in October 1997 at the Rutgers Invitational Symposium on Education on Inclusive Schooling: National and International Perspectives.


Louise Cherry Wilkinson Dean and Professor of Education Psychology Rutgers Graduate School of Education June 22, 1998

The profession of education was shaken nearly two decades ago when national attention focused critically on education and on educators. Both critics and friends have raised some basic questions about our profession, including whether educational professionals have met the challenges that the students and the schools present, and even more fundamentally, if they are able to meet those challenges in the future. Beginning with the highly publicized A Nation at Risk, seemingly endless and often contradictory criticisms, analyses, and recommendations have appeared from virtually every segment of contemporary American society.

In this explosion of concern and ideas for education reform, we saw a need for a general and national forum, in which the problems of education could be examined in light of research from a range of relevant disciplines. Too often, in the academy, analyses of complex issues and problems occur solely within a single discipline. Aspects of a problem that are unfamiliar to members of the discipline are ignored largely, and the resulting analysis is limited in scope and unsatisfactory. Furthermore, when educational issues are investigated only by members of one discipline, there is seldom an attempt to examine related issues from other fields, or to apply methods developed in other fields that might enhance understanding.

The national debate on educational reform has suffered from this myopia, with problems and issues identified, and analyses and solutions proposed, only within the narrow confines of a single disciplinary boundary. In the past, national discussions have been ill informed or uniformed by current research, in part, because there are two few mechanisms for interdisciplinary analyses of significant issues.

The series of symposia, the Rutgers Invitational Symposia Education, addresses this gap. Each symposium focuses on timely issues and problems in education by taking a critical and interdisciplinary perspective. The symposia papers are published in separate volumes, with eleven thus far. Each volume focuses on a particular problem, such as the critical contributions of early childhood education to learning, how to assess literacy skills, the structure of effective schools, the role of cognitive psychology on how to teach mathematics . . .

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