Parents: Why our second grader is not going back to school
How to educate children with disabilities is one of the most difficult conversations in education.
Federal law requires that school districts provide the least restrictive environment with nondisabled peers, to the maximum extent appropriate, but there is a difference of opinion in the disability world about what that means for students with severe disabilities. Are self-contained classes better? Should they be in regular classrooms with supports? How do you decide which students should be in which environment?
In this post, the mother and father of a child with autism write about why they want her in a regular classroom and believe that self-contained special education classrooms can be damaging. This was written by Vikram Jaswal, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and Tauna Szymanski, an attorney and volunteer chair of the Arlington Inclusion Task Force.
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By Vikram K. Jaswal and Tauna M. Szymanski
Like most children across the country, our 7-year-old should be returning to school this fall. She is a happy kid with a thirst for knowledge. The second-grade curriculum in our public school involves experimenting with magnets, writing stories, analyzing graphs, and learning about Susan B. Anthony’s legacy. It looks perfect for her.
But our daughter has a disability, and we learned a few weeks ago that she was not going to be allowed to be educated with the other second-graders. Instead, for the third year in a row and like 1 million other children with disabilities in the United States, she would have to spend at least half of each day in a segregated, “self-contained” classroom with other children with disabilities — an educational practice we have come to learn is questionable at best.