From the Executive Director
“Don’t we already do Inclusion?” This is the question that many parents and schools ask when the topic is discussed. The word “Inclusion” can mean many things. Sometimes it is used to describe a particular classroom which has been dubbed “The Inclusion Classroom”, which means student with disabilities who receive special education services attend this class. Or “Inclusion” is sometimes called “mainstreaming” which is a term to describe the student with special needs who participates in general education classes more than 80% of their school day. However, for many of us who are parents, “Inclusion” is a term used to assert the rights of all students to be educated with their peers in “Inclusive” classrooms.
This fall, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education launched a new “Inclusive Schools Project” which seeks to promote and support inclusive practices in Massachusetts public schools. The goal of this project is to improve outcomes for students with disabilities, students of color, students from diverse cultural backgrounds, and students from economically disadvantaged homes. The focus is improving the environment for all students by changing educational practices and environments to be more accepting of all students. The project will identify, develop, and disseminate a comprehensive set of resources for schools and districts to move systematically toward fully inclusive practices in order to provide equity for all students.
The Federation’s 2017 Visions of Community conference will be all about “Inclusion”. Nationally renowned speaker Paula Kluth will highlight our day with her presentation of “Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?” This presentation is not only filled with ideas for teaching diverse learners, but is also focused on change itself. More specifically, it is focused on how those concerned about inclusion can create change even when they are not in positions of power. The activities, examples, and illustrations in this presentation are designed to help parents and educators refine their vision and their skills when it comes to inclusion. Many of her ideas are no- or low-cost, and many can be achieved by any number of us—including students and families.
You see, “Inclusion” in schools is really about developing a common vision and building classroom practices that welcome all of our children. “Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?” I hope you will come to the conference and find out!