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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Integration not Inclusion

Yesterday I heard a women give testimony to the legislature against a funding bill. She was not actually against the financial expenditure aimed at Special Education. She was opposed to the bias for educating children with disabilities in the general education environment. She spoke of the need to remain true to the federal law (IDEA  http://idea.ed.gov/ ) which calls for the placement decision to be with the IEP team. The women referenced "advocates for inclusion" as a pejorative.

 

This is a common refrain and it is time to uncover the bias in that statement. What a century of social research tells us is that one becomes a participating and contributing member of society when one is integrated. The act of integration being defined as personal social integration and societal participation (Wolfensberger, Social Role Valorization 1983)* is the key to being a healthy and productive citizen. 

 

What we have now is an unemployment rate that is 59% higher than the rate of nondisabled workers (http://ohsonline.com/Articles/2009/02/06/Disabled-Unemployment.aspx). The median adjusted family income for disabled workers is about half of the median for others aged 18-64 ($13,323 compared with $24,487) [http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/chartbooks/income_workers/di_chart.pdf]. So if we consider the success of education for citizens with disabilities the long term result is marginalization in multiple respects. 

 

The sacred IEP team, which I support in theory, is a clear victim of socio-cultural bias. And what aggravates the outcome are high levels of consciousness. Special Education is a support and a service, not a place. When the evidenced is used over the bias children with disabilities will join their peers and have equal opportunities. The children without disabilities will also rise up as a diverse methodological classroom is good for all.





Social Role Valorization (SRV) is the name given to an analysis of human relationships and human services, formulated in 1983 by Wolf Wolfensberger, PhD

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