The Debate ContinuesInclusion advocates argue that placing special needs youngsters in standard classrooms will encourage them “to meet higher academic standards and to emulate their more successful peers.” They also argue that inclusion cultivates empathy and tolerance among special students’ classmates and teachers. Many teachers in standard classrooms see it differently. This placement of children with special needs in standard classrooms has caused stress and extra work for many teachers who are untrained and unprepared to deal with special needs children. Most studies show that teachers, like the general public, have concerns regarding both students with special needs and mainstreaming. Teachers are most uncomfortable mainstreaming emotionally disturbed and intellectually disabled students. Much of this discomfort is caused by a lack of knowledge about disabilities, lack of experience with disabled students, and minimal training in teaching these students. Even though PL 94-142 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act entitle education staff to comprehensive training, many standard classroom teachers have not received enough training. In some instances, teachers have been told by administrators that watching a video will suffice. Many opponents maintain that full inclusion practices are based on budgetary and social motivation and not on what most Americans think classrooms ought to be about, which is basic education. They point out that Congress sends to the states less than 10% of the cost of educating special needs students. For example, special education in a self-contained setting in New York City cost almost $19,000 per student in 1993. By contrast, New York City spent $6,000 per student in standard classrooms. In Texas, the amount of special education grants will be reduced next year. This will probably force more children with special needs into standard classrooms.
The ProcessSection 89.218 of Chapter 19 of the Texas Administrative Code says: (a) In providing programs, services and activities for students with special needs, a school district shall first use those resources made available to all students. (b) When appropriate, students with special needs shall
(1) remain in the standard education program with special education support services, supplementary aids, or other special arrangements, if needed.
(2) be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with students who have no special needs.