We all know better than everyone else. That is the first thing any politician learns on his first sortie out knocking on doors.  Everyone knows the right thing to do and damn it, you had better listen to them if you know what is best for you.  The only problem is two doors down, their enthusiasm is matched, but for the opposite approach.

Thus the political conundrum.  “Which side is right” gradually morphs into….. “which side will be best for me”…

The Red Clay School Board was in that position. The state board will be in that position on Wednesday, according to Kilroy… The News Journal I hear has now turned up the heat…

The people missing from the arguments will be those children who can’t speak for themselves, and those parents who will be dismissed as collateral damage to whatever path the “appointed” chose to go….

The question is this:  is it better for special students (those who ride the short bus) to be mainstreamed into regular instruction with normal students,  or to have individual instruction in a specialized environment?

The answer will depend on which criteria get used. As for administratively, mainstreaming is more cost effective, and if one can spin it off as being better for at-risk children, then so much the better.  That is the number one consideration.  Mainstreaming is cheaper and frees up money which can be spent elsewhere.

The second benefit is simplicity.  Mainstreaming is so much simpler to manage than the complex individualities juggled in transportation needs, curriculum needs, and personnel needs all unique to the mix of students changing-up every school year.  If one imagines having a re-occurring headache with regularity, and suddenly getting an operation and it is gone, you can begin to understand the driving emotional appeal this race to simplicity will have.  It is one giant weight being lifted off ones shoulders.

Those are the drivers.  Since they don’t sell, here are the sweeteners being offered.  It improves special children’s socialization skills,  Umm. Yep, I’m afraid that is it; the only benefit.  So expect to hear this drummed out loud and hard in an effort to overwhelm in volume any arguments to the contrary….

Those contrary arguments will be:  absorption, as in my child needs quiet in order to focus and absorb what he/she is being taught; Another will be self-confidence, as in my child needs to feel confident and loved as he/she does in a special class but won’t in a class where it is obvious even to him/her, that there is something very wrong with them. A third will be focus as in my child needs too much attention that no teacher in a 30 person class can give, without taking it away from 29 others.  Why should they suffer, and my child suffer too?

So let us look at it abstractly. Theoretically.  If a child can’t count to two, for example. In the inclusion model he gets sent off from his regular class to special classes which teach him repetitively how to count to two. After class he goes back to regular sessions teaching science, and since he can’t count to three yet, that entire science lesson using numbers 3, 4, and 5 is lost to him.  The excuse given by the inclusionistas is that the curriculum can be arranged so that discrepency is never covered by the main class and therefore never would become a problem.  But the other balance of THAT statement is why then, should the rest of the class of 29 others, be forced to a watered down curriculum that is being driven by one student who can’t count past 2.?

So you see the dilemma…

The argument will come down to a moral argument phrased like this…  Is it better to save money and lose special-ed students… or…. is it better to spend money and save … special-ed students.

That is solely what is at stake. Absolutely every other argument  is either a distraction or window dressing to cover up this point:…..

Is it better to save money and lose special-ed students… or…. is it better to spend money and save … special-ed students

It’s just money.. and how one feels about either money or people, which one stresses more, will determine the outcome of how this vote gets taken…

There is no way a special-ed student will benefit from an inclusion plan.  On the other hand there is no way to make the exclusion model, as cheap and simple to run as one can with the inclusion plan…

So… which is it going to be?   Better people?  Or better finances?  That decision really is more about the soul of our nation, than it is about what is best for special-ed children in the Red Clay  School district.

So think about it. long and hard.  How do you want to be remembered?  When you die and go beyond, how do you want to be announced to the masses as you enter the pearly gates?  money?  or people?

Finally, I’ll add this and leave you alone to your thoughts.  When i was young, I knew what was best for everyone.  i didn’t have experience; I hadn’t studied, but I was smart, and if i had gained special insight into a problem, then I knew what the correct answer was that would solve whatever woe with which I was beseeched. . Then I was put in power and realized there were real consequences for bad decisions.  I wasn’t as flippant anymore.  I realized I didn’t know Jack.  ( I do now, but he is not much help)  Not everything turned out the way I had envisioned.  Gradually I learned that wisdom if I sought it, could be  found in those who dealt with my problems on a day by day basis.

If you are not a special needs child’s parent, you  literally can have no idea of what they go through.  They may come across as slightly loupy when the try to tell you.  It is because they have so much to tell in so little time.  They literally know the breadth of human capacity, between love and hate, between thought and emotion, between self-love and self-loathing, between high hopes and dashed dreams, they have experienced it all, in every single unit you wish to measure.  They are your experts.  They, and only they, can speak for their child…. Attempting to dismiss them is like any one of us, trying to dismiss Darwin for his evolutionary theories, or Einstein for his General Relativity.

Everyone has a personal story.  My acquaintance  is  one who believed in main-streaming their special ed child.  They recognized the need for special classes, but insisted that he also be part of a larger class to maintain his social skills.  As the child went through 4 years of IEP, it became apparent in the 4th year, that his inclusion in the class was a) pointless to him, and b) a major distraction to all others, and that child’s  parent sadly consigned to bus them out to a specialized school.   That child in single stream, DCAS’d in the 3’s,  just under breakwater for a level 4…. That child went the opposite way Red Clay is going, and blossomed…  Most of it was psychological.

So I’d advise you to listen to the real experts.  Not those who “study’ it; those who live it.   Then do what they say, whatever it is. You won’t go wrong…..

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