Special ed group recommends inclusion at public schools

Friday, July 24, 2009 at 3:21am

Nashville’s public school district needs to continue to ensure that students with disabilities are included with the rest of the student body, but progress is being made, according to a new report from Mayor Karl Dean’s Advisory Council on Special Education.

“Nashville can no longer afford to be a district that does not provide supports and services so that all students can be successful,” council co-chairs Wendy Tucker and Elise McMillan wrote in the report. “We know this community can do better.”

The advisory council includes advocates, parents, students, educators and public school district officials. The group just concluded its second year of work, and Dean has asked that the work continue next year as well.

The primary recommendations made in this year’s report are focused on inclusive practices at Metro Nashville Public Schools. The report commends the district for the work of administrator Linda DePriest, an advisory council member who worked last year as head of special education for MNPS, as well as for engaging consultant Mike Remus in helping roll out inclusive practices district-wide.

The report also highlights the need for improvement of transition services — help for kids with disabilities in moving from high school to their next steps — and Dean highlighted these recommendations in thanking the group. With enough focus, Dean said, Nashville could excel as a community in such services.

“We could be the national leaders,” he said.

To read last year’s report from the advisory council, visit nashville.gov/mocy/specialed.

 

7 Comments on this post:

By: artsmart on 7/24/09 at 6:44

Ms. DePriest has done an excellent job and Special Ed kids finally have someone that cares about them. The problem is that a number of Principals and teachers still have hostile attitudes towards these kids. Until a few of these people are shown the door it will be an uphill fight for everyone involved.

By: Funditto on 7/24/09 at 7:15

So true. And although Mrs. McMillan is very smart, her son went to JPII where I understand there was little inclusion. I find that interesting.

By: martindkennedy on 7/24/09 at 7:41

Inclusion is a worthy goal. The Madison school (moving this year to East Nashville and unsure what it will be called) does a very good job helping kids transition into regular schools.

By: JeffF on 7/24/09 at 8:54

I am curious what makes an attitude "hostile". Are they out-and-out mean to these kids or are they guilty of trying to keep the environment for non-special needs kids from having interruptions and distractions? I admit to having a child with special needs and I worry constantly thinking about his behavior negatively effecting the other children in his class. I do not buy in to the feel-good theory that the other kids benefit from exposure to the special-needs children.

Transitioning is a good thing. A very good thing. As long as the transition eventually has a reasonable chance of being completed. Simply inserting children into mainstream classrooms without any hope of their becoming a non-disruptive personality and a learner is unfair to the society. Mainstreaming obviously does not work in all cases and the law and system does a good job most of the time determining when it is not appropriate.

I do not want the parents of healthy kids thinking that the parents of special-needs kids are out forcing the system to accept a destructive environment. Everyone wants the best for their kids and for the most part they know when the place (mainstream class) is not right.

By: artsmart on 7/24/09 at 9:46

Of course not all special ed children can handle inclusion. Behavior problems occur in all categories of students, not just special needs. What I mean as hostile (from school administrators) is that the children being in their school is considered a burden and thus the kids are treated accordingly. Most of these kids have short comings in certain subjects (learning problems, not behavior problems) and can handle others. They receive special ed help where needed and are included where they can manage. In my daughters case, elementary school was perfect. Her first 3 years of Middle school were a nightmare. The children were not invited to field trips, school functions etc. They were put outside in portables even though there were empty classrooms. They were not allowed to eat lunch with the other children. I can only speak for my child but she learns from watching and listening to other children. The Principal at that school openly discussed with special ed teachers her disdain for these children and wished the program would move to another school. Unfortunately the school system did nothing and the Federal Government (Office of Civil Rights) had to do so. Like it or not there are certain Federal Laws they must follow and they are given the money to do so.

By: artsmart on 7/24/09 at 9:46

Of course not all special ed children can handle inclusion. Behavior problems occur in all categories of students, not just special needs. What I mean as hostile (from school administrators) is that the children being in their school is considered a burden and thus the kids are treated accordingly. Most of these kids have short comings in certain subjects (learning problems, not behavior problems) and can handle others. They receive special ed help where needed and are included where they can manage. In my daughters case, elementary school was perfect. Her first 3 years of Middle school were a nightmare. The children were not invited to field trips, school functions etc. They were put outside in portables even though there were empty classrooms. They were not allowed to eat lunch with the other children. I can only speak for my child but she learns from watching and listening to other children. The Principal at that school openly discussed with special ed teachers her disdain for these children and wished the program would move to another school. Unfortunately the school system did nothing and the Federal Government (Office of Civil Rights) had to do so. Like it or not there are certain Federal Laws they must follow and they are given the money to do so.

By: P51Jock on 7/24/09 at 12:06

Is this report available on line?