Sunday, November 4, 2007

Self Analysis

As the daughter of an administrator, I came into this blog with an already developed opinion with detailed information. This was an advantage because it allowed me to skip the surface information and delve into more specific topics, yet it was a disadvantage because I created assumptions that my audience may not have been as well informed. With that in mind, my thinking on the issue of mainstreaming had less ability to grow yet was still open to persuasion.

On the issue of determining when students should begin mainstreaming, my opinion has been shaped based on current schools that have mainstreaming plans. I have found that most examples of mainstreaming are beginning the process at the age of late elementary to early middle school. This age is ideal for both special needs children and regular students because it allows both groups to become “tempered.” At this age, opinions are developed, and by introducing the two groups together it prevents those opinions from being negative. Also, at this age, the special need students are able to jump start their education, possibly allowing them to bypass the special education track later on in middle school or high school.

As far the qualifications of a mainstreaming candidate, I really have a weak opinion. My research has not lead me one way or another, making it hard to define what needs can and cannot be met in both types of classrooms. I have always believed that mainstreaming is not for every child; diagnosis must be on an individual basis, even for children with the same types of disorders.

My opinion has not changed, however, on whether or not mainstreaming should or should not be implemented. With all of the statistical evidence that has been brought forward recently, I am more in support of inclusive classrooms than ever.

The greatest revelation that occurred to me during this blog was on the thought process of answering “If there is so much evidence that mainstreaming is good, then why is it not standard procedure across the country?” I earlier theorized that this problem lies below the surface of education, deeper into our social core of values. I believe that the main problem with this issue is our nation’s history of the inability to deal with equality and selfishness. There is a somewhat negative connotation to special education, so including special education students into a mainstreamed classroom would, in many eyes, be like spoiling the atmosphere. There must be a large social confrontation in order to overcome this obstacle before the logistics of mainstreaming can ever be in question, and at this point in time, our society is nowhere near its potential.

Through my analysis of this social issue, I have really realized how it coincides with a national problem that has taken place since the nation’s birth. The similarities between mainstreaming and racism create an analogy that can be very powerful. With two distinct groups of people, there is always chance for some sort of discrimination or divide, and if that gap persists, in both races and academic ability, there is a loss of human connection. Along with a fear of equality, our nation faces a fear of being different, but in order to make a change to mainstreaming- one that is proven to be positive in all aspects- our country will have to overcome deep bred social norms.

I believe that one of the biggest dangers of not using inclusion is the relationship that special education students have with the current rise in technology. If students are not taught the staple of our society today, we will be leaving them behind only to fail. Because of technology’s importance to society today, if special education students do not learn how to communicate and work with technology they will not have the tools to help them succeed, even with the help of others. In today’s age, a student without access to technology is like a student without a pencil and paper.

Because I was forced to defend one side of this issue, I learned how to create a powerful argument. In this case, I found research extremely useful in creating and maintaining a mindset, but looking back now, I see that the authorities that I relied on for research could have created a somewhat biased argument. Though I used very reliable sources, I do not think that I sought out a very diverse variety of sources. The majority of my sources came from educational journals or databases, therefore giving me a tainted, yet very educated view on the subject. If I had focused even more on teachers and parents I’m sure that I would have found more negative aspects of mainstreaming because of the support that most educators have for mainstreaming.

I have truly appreciated the opportunity to create a project that was structured to interact and argue with my peers. Their feedback helped me expand my thinking and research areas of the issue that I would have never thought of. This project has taught me something very important about binary issues and those that hold opinions about them: you must overturn every rock in the pond before you can make a judgment. If there is something left out of your research, your argument will be flawed and picked apart by others, and you will not grow as much as a thinker.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I believe that the implications of mainstreaming are deep and complex. If mainstreaming is not implemented, I think that the amazing benefits will never be realized because there is a functioning and satisfactory plan already in place for special education children. Special education students will continue to be separated, allowing them to learn but not develop the skills at the rate shown in mainstreaming. Because mainstreaming not only develops educational background but also social and personal characteristics, our nation would see an important increase in human capital because the contributions added to the workforce and other areas would be significant. By remaining in separate classrooms, I believe that we are doing all children of the country a disservice. Exposing the two different types of students to each other, we are able to demystify and re-humanize the educational setting, as well as benefit both parties academically and behaviorally. These consequences are substantial, but, unfortunately, there needs to be a real push to start mainstreaming because the current educational plan for mainstreaming, in many eyes, is adequate.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Class Links

In participating in this class project, I have found many of my classmates’ blogs worth mentioning on my own. I feel that the time and effort put into the following blogs is easily noticeable through the quality of argumentation displayed.

Heatin’ it up!- The blog on the topic of global warming easily lays out the issue at hand. Focused on the government’s involvement in the issue, this blog hints at possible solutions to the problem through the use of credible sources.

Abortion 102- On the topic of abortion, I find that this blog finds a way to combat varying sides of the argument. With medical interest, the author focuses particularly well on writing without bias and successfully uses sources to create their argument.

Stem Cell Research- This site’s strongest attribute, I think, is its structure in argumentation. By focusing on a narrow aspect in each post the author is able to avoid bias and pick apart many opposing views.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Helpful Links

Below is a review of some of the links that I have posted in my previous blogs. I find these articles, journals, or websites to be reliable, informative, and insightful on the topic of mainstreaming.

Studies/Statistical Evidence

Zigmund and Baker- This is study that was conducted with the goal of recording the behavior changes of teachers and students in a mainstreamed classroom. It showed that the behavior of teachers did not change, but there were less behavioral issues with the non-handicapped children in the room.

Attitudes- In this study, attitudes towards mainstreaming of teachers, students, and parents are quantified.

Classroom Variables- Statistical evidence of handicapped student’s success in a mainstreamed classroom compared to separated classrooms.

Technology Related to Mainstreaming:

Kelly Driscoll- Kelly is able to take part in regular classroom despite her disabilities with the help of a personal technology system.

Did You Know- A video relating to the shift toward technology in classrooms and worldwide.


Fitting In- Tips for making everyone feel welcome in an inclusive classroom.

A Service Not a Sentence- Support and ideas for implementing mainstreaming.

Inclusion Week- A less commercial website devoted to the ideas of mainstreaming and how it can be accomplished worldwide.

Current Examples in the News:

Abington Heights Middle School- the story of a middle school in Pennsylvania experiencing mainstreaming.

Legal Fight- A legal battle over the question “Must parents of special-education students give public schools a chance before having taxpayers reimburse them for private-school tuition?”

Story of a Teacher- A woman testified for the rights of a handicapped student in school.

Individual Stories:

Kelly Driscoll- Kelly is able to take part in regular classroom despite her disabilities with the help of a personal technology system.

Peter Barnes- The story of a teacher who uses discrete teaching techniques to make children with disabilities less alienated in his mainstreamed classroom.

Opposing View:

Duck!- While teachers in this Pennsylvania town supported inclusion, the parents voiced concerns in this study if “average” students would receive watered down curriculum as a result, and if mainstreaming affected the quality of education received by all.

Arguments For and Against- Systematically lists the pros and cons.

Against- A less formal website, but someone's valid argument against mainstreaming.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Theory of a Deeper Issue

Mainstreaming is an incredibly pertinent issue pertaining not only to special needs children, but to all students, parents, teachers, and administrators across the country. Even though there is a nation wide movement towards integrating special needs children into regular classrooms, I believe that mainstreaming is still in debate because it is drawing on a larger societal issue that has happened throughout history in America. I feel that there is a sense of wariness towards mainstreaming from adults because they are afraid of lowering the level of education given to kids in regular classrooms. On the children’s side, there is statistical evidence that shows they are scared and intimidated to learn and interact in the same context as special needs students. As selfish and close-minded as that may seem, I believe that it is the root of the problem. If there was not an emotional or political problem below the surface, every classroom in America would be mainstreamed because there is so much hard, factual evidence that supports the technique and shows progress for both parties involved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Technology in the Mainstreamed Classroom

A group called the Center for Applied Technology has created a system called a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which allows students to use whatever print or technological tools they need in a classroom. This article tells the story of a young girl who has learning disabilities but was able to use her personal technology in order to read a story in a regular classroom. “I had a chance to sit...with kids my age, kids that are supposed to be in my grade," she says. "And that's instead of getting kicked out of the class." The team that designed the technology program was able to also have input in the IDEA legislation, and is currently working on getting the UDL systems into mainstreamed classrooms across the country. This article also ties a link into the Youtube link on the right side of the page. With the advances in technology that are changing our everyday life, it is important to be integrating technology into every classroom, including classrooms with special education students. This system demonstrates that they most certainly have the capacity to use technology, and also are able to thrive with its aid. I think that, with our generation’s turn to technology, if special education students did not learn how to use different aspects of new technology we would be unfairly leaving them behind.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Main Function: Minimizing Cruelty

One of the greatest aspects of inclusion is the fact that special needs kids are no longer secluded. They finally become part of a classroom setting which they deserve and can adapt to with their peers. Of course, there is an acknowledgement of differences between all of the students, but in this case, teacher Peter Barnes feels that inclusion “minimizes the negative effects.” Even if the cases that prove academic improvement are ignored, the premise that special needs kids are able to become more of a student and person is enough to integrate classrooms.