After watching the hour long film about special education students from Los Angeles, I had the AH-HA moment where I realized how important it is to incorporate these students into the “regular classes”. The students were showing improvement from the first couple of months being in the regular classes by being able to stay better focused, develop better math and language skills, and learn how to follow the “rules and codes of power” in each classroom. Their social skills were also being practiced and they were accepted by the students in their classrooms. After watching it, I felt that yes integrating the students into the classroom was a very beneficial decision for both the special education students and the "regular students". The regular students developed a connection to the students and created friendships with them. The idea of reconceptualizing children with down syndrome in schools is something that takes time, and integrating the students is the first step to do just that.
However, with all the benefits, I felt very conflicted. After reading Tracking by Jeannie Oakes, I somewhat agree that it is beneficial to have higher ability groups and lower ability groups for the students who excel and need more of a challenge; as well as the lower ability students having the resources for extra time and help. Integrating the special education students has great benefits and they do deserve the education that any other child receives. However, I still feel in the middle about having the special education students integrated. I keep wondering how would a teacher find a way to make the lessons adequate enough for all students at different levels of understanding. The special education student has disadvantages and may fall behind the other students in the class, or the "regular students" (Don't like using those words) will feel that they have to go at a slower pace for those students. Thus I still cannot decide what I believe to be the better option in order to end the discrimination and segregation amongst the students. Socially I agree that the students should be incorporated because they deserve to be treated as any other student. When mentioned in the film that wing of the school landed the reputation of "special ed wing" and no students would use it bothered me. In my high school, special education students were very involved in our community whether it be in dance or unified sports, they were incorporated. No student should feel that they do not belong in their community and that's exactly what was happening.
The parents shown in the film had brought to light their rights as parents and that the school system should be able to accommodate and bend for their students regardless their child's conditions. This is something that should have progressed years ago. Students should not have to attend a different school that is no where near their friends or community because that school cannot accommodate for them.
I found this video to help me understand a little better and view it from a different perspective. Check it out.