Almost 50 years after the U.S. Congress required schools to educate students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment feasible, children are still placed in segregated classes, says Alfredo J. Artiles, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE). What’s more, sometimes their teachers and principals separate students in the name of inclusion.
In many cases, the result is “bad consequences with good intentions,” he tells GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope on this episode of School’s In.
Across countries, Artiles says, exclusion falls disproportionately on children whose race, social class, religion or immigration status are considered lower-status.
“African American students tend to be placed in more segregated settings for a larger portion of the day than white students with the same diagnosis,” he says. “We need to be attentive to the intersections of disability with those areas.”
Artiles calls for changing the system – not just moving kids from one room to another – and recognizing that “disability is really a fascinating dimension of the human experience,” he says.
“I know how hard it is to produce this kind of change, especially when you throw race and class in the mix. However, we have evidence from certain projects and initiatives around the country in which you see people rallying around the idea of inclusive education and making a difference.”
But, he adds, “This is always unfinished work.”
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