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Should Special Education Students Be Educated Alongside General Education Students?
The silence in the classroom in which one can hear a pin fall to the ground and the lack of help that one desperately needs can be disturbing for some students. The urge to talk with someone or the desperate need for use that one is too afraid to ask for. This is a typical point of view for special needs students in a general learning needs students classroom. Special education for neurodiverse students isn’t available in all schools. Some schools have extra teachers for required students, but most don’t. According to a study made in the US, 7.3 million students get special education. That means that 14% of all public school students in the US receive special education. This may seem like a large and successful amount, but it is not. Another study showed that 11.12 million out of 56.6 million elementary and secondary school students need special education attention. The pros of this topic, support special education for neurodiverse students, while the cons think that special education for neurodiverse students shouldn’t be a thing.
Those who encourage special education say that “Students with special education needs have the right to be educated on an equal footing with their neurotypical peers” (Aratoni). They also say that having a chance to interact with neurotypical students can help special needs students prepare for a better and easier life after high school. When neurodiverse students get the opportunity to see how it is to work as neurotypical students, they may also be able to see how they live and why it is easier for them to be educated separately if they wish for that. Defenders of the mainstreaming of special needs students argue that such students need to be integrated as seamlessly as possible into general education classes for various reasons. One of those reasons, according to supporters, is based on the concept of "positive modeling" (Aratoni). The idea behind positive modeling is that special needs students benefit from being in a classroom with general learning needs because they can observe their ways of learning.
“Opponents assert that the education experts who first developed the idea of mainstreaming special needs students back in the late 1960s and early 1970s failed to take into account empirical evidence that refuted the idea that special needs students are better educated among non-disabled peers” (Aratoni).
By learning alongside general students, special needs students can feel more confident and assertive in their learning. They will also feel more part of the school culture since they are included in activities that are more adapted to them, such as having oral tests and oral activities since they can find written tests harder and more challenging. If something is more challenging in school, one tends to give up more quickly and refuse to continue. If schools can arrange more adaptable activities for special needs students, they will be more confident and excited to come to school.
Excitement to come to school plays a huge role in succeeding. If one is unmotivated and hates the thought of coming to school, there is a smaller chance of succeeding because if it is the case, one will feel more exhausted and overwhelmed about school and the work given.
If special needs students get the help and the support they need, school will automatically get easier and become more fun to attend. On the other hand, those who think special needs students shouldn’t get special education say that special education is a challenging task for teachers because most teachers have been educated to teach general education students. Even though some teachers are specialized in teaching special needs students, adapting to special needs students can affect their ability to learn in a wrong way because they see learning in different ways than what they are used to. And yes, special education has downsides. For example, special education takes a lot more effort and can make many things much harder than for neurotypical students learning, such as getting jobs, etc. Opponents say that special needs students have a negative impact on the other mainstream students because they can give them wrong ideas on learning since special needs students need a different type of teaching. So basically, they say that if a special needs student walks into a classroom full of mainstream students, they will interrupt how the neurotypical students work and learn because of how the neurodiverse student learns.
Opponents maintain that putting special needs students in mainstream classes rather than putting them in different classes or even schools has “rescued” an entire generation of children. Previously, special needs students have been looked down on by educators and society as a whole, and putting them in mainstream classes has helped them not be looked down on. They also say that special needs students can perform the same tasks as mainstream students and can function at a higher academic level.
After researching both sides of this issue, I have a strong opinion, and it is that neurodiverse students should be educated separately from neurotypical students if they desire to, because this helps neurodiverse students. Special needs students need to have the right to learn in a way that they can understand. If a special needs student gets put into a mainstream classroom, clearly they won’t be able to learn as well as if they were in a special education classroom because of the lack of help they need. Special needs students may find it harder to concentrate and understand lessons that they have in school, and special education helps a lot. With special education, students can have a better learning experience and find pleasure in learning and going to school.
Special education teachers have started to develop throughout the years. In the earlier years, everyone had one teacher, but now students have different teachers for different subjects, including special education, which at least some schools have. Can you imagine being a special needs student in a classroom full of mainstream students? That is a challenging task because most of what you are doing is stuff you don’t understand and can’t work with? By researching both sides, I found that people who support special education for special needs students have more opinions and clarification, such as why special education should be a thing and how special education has helped neurodiverse students.
In conclusion, pros say that special education is a thing that doesn’t exist everywhere, but it is a topic that can affect someone's mental health and entire future. For example, parents are tired and worried about their children not getting the help they need, leading to failing a class, but cons think that special education just puts the student behind in their learning. If that happens repeatedly, in the end, children can even have trouble attending a good college and then not be able to get a job that they can rely on. Special education is an issue that people fight for daily, but it is developing in the best way. More and more teachers are specialized in neurodiverse education and neurodiverse kids are getting more help.
Aratoni, Lori, editor. "Issues and Controversies- Special Education." Info Base, 7 Sept. 2007, icof.infobase.com/articles/QXJ0aWNsZVRleHQ6MTYwNDU=. Accessed 12 May 2022.
IES NCES. "Students with Disabilities." National Center for Education Statistics, IES NCES, 1 May 2021, nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cgg#:~:text=In%202019%E2%80%9320%2C%20the%20number,of%20all%20public%20school%20students. Accessed 23 May 2022.
Mader, Jackie. "How Teacher Training Hinders Special-Needs Students." The Atlantic, 7 July 2020, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/how-teacher-training-hinders-special-needs-students/518286/. Accessed 13 May 2022.
Villegas, Tim. "4 Common Arguments against Inclusive Education—And Why They're Wrong." Special Education, 5 Sept. 2019, www.noodle.com/articles/4-common-arguments-against-inclusive-education-and-why-theyre-wrong. Accessed 16 May 2022.