Supplementary Reader #1 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Magazine: The American Enterprise Article: "Specially Ill-Educated " by T.Kelly Rossiter

This article focused on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 in which both of the above seek to mainstream disabled students into a regular curriculum. Students who are handicapped must be placed, "in the least restrictive environment to the maximum appropriate," so that , "disabled children are educated with children who are not disabled." Under Section 504 a "behavioral disability" is "an inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances." What the author wanted to get across to readers was that many students who have complete control of their actions are using the above acts to protect them as they disrupt classrooms with full knowledge that nothing can or will be done to them as a form of discpline or punshiment. As fuel for the fire, parents blame the school for their child's behavioral problems. The author goes on to say that today's special education classes are a tragedy. Mainstreaming students who display inappropriate behavior hinder a classroom while these students are protected on civil rights grounds and may not be held responsible for their actions. I find much to be true in the statements written by the author which I see happing in my own classroom and school. I am not saying that mainstreaming is wrong but the problem seems to be in the labeling of a "disabled student" or a "behavioral disorder." Mainstreaming is a wonderful way to allow those who are disabled to interact with students who are not and vice versa. But there must be a stopping point. In my own classroom experience I have had several students who acted inappropriately continuously throughout the year and several times to an extent that other students where in physical danger. It is only then that the student may be removed from the classroom and if so only for a short period of time. I know I would not want my child witnessing what these students who are labeled as "disordered" doing to their teachers and classmates. It seems that these behavioral students have complete control over thier actions and only smile at me when confronted. When will they have to become responsible for their actions. And then their are the parents who instead fo seeing their child as the one at fault, they blame the school and teachers. How many tax dollars have been used to defend and pay behavioral problems of students who considered to be "disabled"? Classrooms become chaotic and those who are there to learn are distracted and influenced by the inappropiate behavior of another student. Teachers lose the respect they need from students and begin to feel helpless with the situation; and they cerainly are. I'm sure many teachers have felt this way and have come to the realization that many of these "behavioral disordered" students have complete control over their actions and are left with no decisions but to stand by and let mainstreaming proceed in full force as classroom discipline and morals deteriorate.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 1999

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