Relatives came for dinner Sunday night. The chicken came out terrible but the baked sweet potato fries and the cake- oh wait this isn't a food blog. As much as I like to read about delicious recipes made from only organically grown local ingredients, or the next really great undiscovered cafe - what I really know - life in school.
I did serve a really large bottle of Pinot Grigiot with the meal and by dessert, my mother-in-law was well primed to give her opinions. I was in the process of comparing notes with my daughter's roommate about progress through the biology curriculum, when she mentioned that her inclusion class was doing as well as or better than the others. My daughter added her commentary on the status of her inclusion class, and her perception of her co-teacher, when I felt (for some unknown reason) that I should explain to my mother-in-law what inclusion is.
Now she is a woman who left teaching when classrooms had one electric plug in the front because the only thing you could plug in was a film strip projector, and copying meant hand cranking a mimeograph machine until your hands turned purple.
"I don't have a classroom in the corner of a school where I work with 10 kids all day long, in the new system, we go out and work with special need students in the general education classes."
“That's the stupidest thing I ever heard,” was her response. I was reminded of a co-worker whose reaction to the introduction of the inclusion programs, was “We work so hard to get them out of our classrooms and now you want to put them back?”
So do I think inclusion is the stupidest thing I ever heard of? I think I am long past the point of speculating about the inevitable. I think expecting a lot from everyone means, that some students will go farther than anyone ever predicted. And some kids will drive everyone crazy in the process. But at least at our level in our little world special ed is not at place – it's something we do or try to do.
The ninth grade biology teacher was frustrated by the inclusion class today, She was going over the structure of the cell for the umpteenth time, and trying to have the student answer the convoluted questions from the state exit exam. “I can't do this,” she muttered, “I'm not trained for special ed.”
So I took the chalk and did my thing and the bell rang and the period was over and everyone left.
There was no child left behind. Physically at least.
I could write all day pros and cons of inclusion and the shape of special education in our public schools today, but tonight's chicken is drying out and there are a whole lot of food blogs to check. And in the words of the ninth grade bio teacher, “it is what is”