The Regular Education Initiative and Patent Medicine: A Rejoinder to Algozzine, Maheady, Sacca, O'Shea, and O'Shea

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The Regular Education Initiative and Patent Medicine: A Rejoinder to Algozzine, Maheady, Sacca, O'Shea, and O'Shea


It is apparent from their commentary that Algozzine et al. misread or misinterpreted our position on important points. For example, from the following sentence, Algozzine et al. chose to quote only the part we enclose here in brackets: "We do agree that [the mainstream is most appropriate for many handicapped students] and that no students should be removed from the regular class until it is clear that effective programming cannot be provided there" (Braaten et al., 1988, p. 23). Our argument is not that segregation is always better than integration or vice versa, nor that interventions with students with behavioral disorders can never be successful in general education. Our argument remains that integration is not always appropriate for all students and that integration is particularly difficult for students with behavioral disorders; integration is, we suggest, inappropriate for some students.

We suggested that students with behavioral disorders are underidentified. Algozzine et al. say of us, "They fail to point out, however, how identifying them will solve their problems." We do not believe that merely identifying these students will solve much of anything. However, we believe that not identifying them will not solve their problems, either. But identifying them may be a necessary first step toward solving their problems.

In response to their claim that "The authors offer no advice . . . about how to address the `painful and endemic ills' that plague special education other than by placing more students in it," we refer readers to the conclusions of our original paper: We support research, we do not prescribe a single remedy, and we do not suggest more segregation as a solution.

We are unable to interpret the statements of Algozzine et al. regarding overidentification; their comments on prevalence and service rates represent self-contradictory positions. One of the reasons their discussion of this issue is problematic is that they ignore the way in which students with behavioral disorders are included by proponents of the REI in the categories "all students" or "mildly handicapped." Given our previous citations on this issue and the recent findings of the Institute of Medicine (1989) that at least 12% of children under the age of 18 have serious mental, behavioral, or developmental problems, half of them severe, we fail to see how professional equivocation about the fact of underidentification can be justified.


We think that Algozzine et al. simply do not understand the complexities of the REI as a political movement. For example, they suggest that the REI is embodied only in Will's (1986) paper; we believe otherwise. Her commentary is open to many different interpretations, although it appears to have been used as a rationale for reform proposals consistent with the Reagan administration's policy objectives (Kauffman, 1989). The REI is a varied set of reform proposals sharing a common theme--special education pullout programs of all kinds have been discredited for most or all students with special needs, whereas evidence supports the effectiveness of fully integrated programs in general education for most or all students with disabilities (see our original article: CCBD, 1989; see also Kauffman, 1989, for citations).

The REI is primarily a political strategy, not a reform movement based on rigorous policy analysis, reliable empirical data, or careful logical analysis. In fact, politically popular reform proposals, including the REI, emphasize the adoption of approaches to teaching that are known to fail with students who have learning problems (Carnine & Kameenui, 1990). We question whether educational decisions should be primarily political.


Few proponents of the REI have singled out behavioral disorders for special comment, other than to imply that these disabilities can be effectively addressed by methods used for all disabilities. …


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