Monday, August 27, 2012

A Box of Crayons

When my son was six, some boys were making fun of him as we were leaving his karate class and walking towards the van.  He had tears in his eyes and asked me why he was so different?
He asked, "Mommy what is wrong with me?"

The first thing that came to my head was something I read from "All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten".  I simply cannot tell my story alone. There are others that are so eloquently written and deserve to be shared prior to mine.

A Box of Crayons
While walking in a toy store the day before today, 
I overheard a crayon box with many things to say.

“I don’t like red!” said yellow. And green said, “Nor do I!” 
And no one here likes orange, But no one knows quite why.

“We are a box of crayons That don’t really get along,” 
Said blue to all the others “Something here is wrong!”

Well, I bought that box of crayons And took it home with me 
And laid out all the crayons So the crayons could all see.

They watched me as I colored with red and blue and green
 and black and white and orange and every color in between.
They watched as green became the grass and blue became the sky. 
The yellow sun was shining bright on white clouds drifting by.

Colors changing as they touched, Becoming something new. 
They watched me as I colored. They watched till I was through.

And when I’d finally finished, I began to walk away. 
And as I did the crayon box Had something more to say...

“I do like red!” said the yellow and green said, “So do I!”
 “And blue you are terrific so high up in the sky.”
“We are a box of crayons each of us unique, 
but when we get together the picture is complete.”

Poem inspired by The Crayon Box that Talked, a story by Shane Derolf and Michael Letzig

Wouldn’t it be terrible? Wouldn’t it be sad? If just one single color was the color that we had? If everything was purple? Or red? Or blue? Or green? If yellow, pink, or orange was all that could be seen? Can you just imagine how dull our world would be if just one single color was all we got to see?

Small Wonders: Life and the Crayon box
...It sure would be convenient if things were black and white, if every decision and circumstance we come upon could be boiled down to a simple choice between A and B, with the obvious answer being made clear.
We do get those decisions on occasion — Slurpee over Icee, red zinfandel over white, Patron tequila over Jose Cuervo. But I'd say the majority of our choices and relationships are not black and white. Fate, chance and experience throw red, blue and burnt sienna at us too.
The world is a mosaic of struggles. Our relationships and personal situations are unique and convoluted. It's made that much more so because each one of us brings our own crayon box to the play date. You have the 64-color box with the built-in sharpener, and I only have the eight-count jumbo collection filled with dulled stubs. But I may have some colors you don't, some flavors and experiences that you already went through, or different colors that you've never seen before. And you, assuredly, have a few that I've never used on my canvas.
We can control only so much of what comes our way in the shrinking time we have; can only draw with the colors in our box. But if we're lucky, some other kids let us see inside their boxes, maybe even let us borrow a little part of them to take with us to use on our big picture. That's when we get to see just how brilliant a world can be when we stop seeing things in black and white alone.
Politics are magenta. Religion is desert sand. Justice is fuzzy wuzzy.The environment is forest green. Love is pink flamingo. Society is jazzberry jam. And friendships are raw umber.
We can live a life with only two crayons, surround ourselves only with those who agree with us, refuse to accept anything outside the lines we've drawn for ourselves, and toss from our lives those who don't. We can.
But something tells me that the world, and our brief passing through it, is made so much richer and worthwhile by drawing with other crayons once in a while, accepting each other for who we are and loving each other no less.
I've got a crayon on my desk... It's red-orange, a heartwarming combination of colors that are neither black nor white, but resembling earth, fire and time. And the smell of it takes me back to a place that I will never forget; a childhood and life filled with dreams and fond memories. I hope you like it. It's yours if you ever want to borrow it.
Life, packed in a box of crayons
 Sharron Sparks Boyle

Recent graduates have one thing in common. At one time, and not so many years ago, they knew that magic lives in a box of Crayons. It doesn’t matter if one is eight or eighty; the tinted wax sticks bring smiles, brightness and color to the world. Last week my granddaughter, a recent kindergarten graduate, and I carefully picked our favorite crayons to color a flower and a sky. Suddenly I remembered that magic. 

I realized how much the Crayons I have used from my earliest memories have painted my life, my thinking processes and who I am today. Modern writers have described how colors can impact self-image and direction in life. Musician and author Shel Silverstein’s verse “Colors,” goes like this: “My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white. 

My eyes are grayish blueish green, But I’m told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but it’s silver when it’s wet. And all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.”

Louis L’Amour stated, “All education is self-education. A teacher is only a guide, to point out the way, and no school, no matter how excellent, can give you education. What you receive is like the outlines in a child’s coloring book. You must fill in the colors yourself.”

As I sail along in life, I invent my own unique names for colors as I try to describe the fleeting glimpses of nature’s beauty. The harbors, bays, sounds and oceans I’ve crossed are full of color. The sunsets are phenomena of unparalleled beauty. Each day brings colors of deep blues and greens to bright pinks, oranges and aquamarines. Many of the colors are found in a box of Crayons. Palms, sea grapes, orchids and causarina pines also reflect the spectrum of greens, silvers, and browns created by the Crayon LLC.  

Underway, I create my own names for the ever-changing vistas. Imagine plows through the surf and I invent Sea Foam White. In my mind the color is a bubbly kind of white with tones of gray and green that ever so subtly give body to the color. Sometimes when the sun shines bright, the ocean appears almost purple, not quite the Violet Blue once found in a box of crayons, but more of a Dark Royal Purple Blue. I’ve yet to find the perfect color for the beautiful clear blue waters of the Bahamas. Perhaps Crayola could create a Bahamas Blue that would fit somewhere between Aquamarine, Jungle Green and Pacific Blue.

The magical world of Crayons began when cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith founded a company to produce pigments for industrial use in New York City during 1885. 

Early products used red iron oxide for barn paint and carbon black chemicals to make car tires black. According to Wikipedia, the inexpensive black colorants earned the young company a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition. Slate school pencils were added to the line later that year and soon after experiments with slate waste, cement and talc led to the first dustless white chalk, earning the company another gold medal at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

The first boxes of Crayons made a debut in 1903 with an eight-color pack. Over time the variety of colors increased, reaching a high of 120 shades 95 years later in 1998. Since that time, Wikipedia states that while new colors have been added, the new hues always replace existing colors.    

Since 1958, 13 colors have been retired, (making a total of 133 colors over time) while others have been re-named.

Crayola retired Blue Gray, Lemon Yellow, Orange Red, Orange Yellow, Violet Blue, Maize, Green Blue, Raw Umber, Thistle, Blizzard Blue, Mulberry, Teal Blue and Magic Mint. Blue Gray and Orange Yellow were two of my favorites. As social awareness and sensitivity to cultural issues rose to the forefront, Crayola reinvented names for several of their colors. 

In 1962, Flesh became Peach for obvious reasons. suggests that 
perhaps the Civil Rights movement may have influenced that move. Indian Red created in 1958 to help fill the new 64-count box was changed to Chestnut in 1999. At the time the company warned children not to warm “this Chestnut over a fire,” as crayons melt at 105 degrees. Earlier Prussian Blue became Midnight to avoid political associations. 

Perhaps it was these changes that Robert Fulghum, author of “All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, thought of when he wrote, “We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”  

Even as adults many of us still love the smell and feel of Crayons. Both take us back to a time when life was simpler. My niece Sara, and her mother Nancy, recently used Crayons and a blow dryer to create melted Crayon posters. 

As I pick up each of my granddaughter’s crayons from the carousel where they stand like soldiers. I pull out the glasses to read the new colors, Jazzberry, Wild Blue Yonder and Dandelion and of course I have to try them out. 

My granddaughter colors thoughtfully beside me. I imagine the hues that she will chose to color within the outlines of her life. I hope she colors herself with tints of Kindness, Curiosity, Loyalty and Love, Courage, Steadfastness, Patience, and Charity. Thank you Smith and Binney.

The Crayon Wars
A Simple Box of Crayons
Ayngel Overson

An empty box of crayons lay forgotten upon the table. 
This, my friends, is the beginning of our little fable...

Red Versus Blue
This is right, and that is wrong, and thus we have reached an impasse, my friend.
You are so very stubborn, you will not break, you will not bend.
Though anyone could clearly see that the most important color is not you but me
You are as blind as any brick wall could ever hope to be.

Sir, you are mistaken, it is you that has been struck blind.
Blinded by your ignorance, blinded by your mind.
For what lies before you is as plain as the nose on your face,
though by your logic it could be a nose, but you would call it a vase.

A vase and a nose aren't all that different you see,
flowers seem to appeal to them both equally.
If logic is where your argument is based, then logic my friend is dead.
Anyone could plainly see you have but rocks in your head.

Me Versus You
Your way of spinning logic, to suit your own device,
leaves my head a-hurting, so here is my advice.
Look at the world around you, and imagine it with no Blue,
the skies, the water, the flowers, all devoid of my particular hue.

You sir are merely Red, a crass and angry color indeed,
the world can live without you; unless they want to bleed.
Anger, war, and violence flash in dark and bitter shades of you.
Look around the battlefield, you'll not find any Blue.

I am the blood, this much is true.
Anger, war, and violence are all devoid of Blue.
Yet blue is the color of sadness, of sorrow, and of pain.
Look among these awful things and you'll not find a red stain.

You forget the rose, my friend, though many colors it can bear.
Yellow, White,
Pink, and Orange, a colorful affair.
Yet only Red speaks of passion, of love, and emotion so divine.
You may have the sky and water, but passion is only mine.

What About Green?
They turned their backs to one another, their noses to the sky.
Each refusing to give an inch, move a muscle, bat an eye.
So firm they were in their mission,
neither noticed the approach of a new addition.
Gentlemen, gentlemen, stop this nonsense now. You are you, and he is he,
but where would the world be without the aid of me?
Green is the color of life, Green is the
grass, Green is the tree.
The world would be dead and Brown without the likes of me.

Black and White World
And what is wrong with Brown, I ask? With nature, wood, and earth?
I might not seem like much to you, but only I represent rebirth.
When winter comes and the other colors die, I remain.
I wait out the season patiently until it is time to bring life again.

Over in the corner, Black and White stood sullen and quiet.
More colors joined the battle, the crayons began to riot.
Each quite certain of their place, each refusing to budge from a single point of view.
Black looked at White and plead, "Whatever shall we do?"

A True Work of Art
White spoke up then, her voice clear, strong, and true.
Where would I be without each and every one of you?
When all of you are needed, how can we say only one is right?
The absence of light is darkness, the absence of darkness is light.

The world was not made to be viewed as merely Black or White,
It was not supposed to be us against them, each of you are right.
The world was made for Red, the world was made for Blue,
and Green, and Brown, and Orange, and every other hue!

Where Have We Gone Wrong?
The crayons lowered their heads and shuffled off to sleep.
Inside their box they settled down, a chastised flock of sheep.
Only Black and White remained outside watching their children rest.
Black asked, "Where did we go wrong? Have we not done our very best?
All of them are different, but they are also all the same.
Why do they attack the differences, passing on the blame?
Where have we gone wrong, when they refuse to see what is right?
We are all the same in darkness, why can't we all be equal in light?"

Life is a box of crayons 
by JoAnn Yohn

Two vibrant pinterest pages:

Life is about using the whole box of crayons

Life is a box of crayons

DIY Melted Crayon Heart Art

Muffin crayons

Glittered heart crayons:

And finally, my own story as my son remembered:

Imagine yourself as a crayon.
Every crayon is different, but yet they all go into the same box.
Some crayons are very popular and the point is completely gone.
Some are bright, some have a perfect point.
Some are small pieces.
There are crayons that have the paper removed.
There are some crayons that have longer names.

Every crayon is different
It doesn't matter.

What does matter is that you are a crayon.
You fit in that box.
How you fit is up to you.
How you look at yourself is up to you.
If you think you are a broken crayon, then you will be a broken crayon and feel sorry for yourself forever.
If you are not the most popular color, that is okay because not all crayons are popular.
Be happy with what you are.
Make what you are work for you, because you are a crayon.
Some boxes have eight and some have over 100.
Each crayon is perfectly beautiful just as they are.

I did tell him he had Asperger's disorder that day.
I told him that it was truly a gift.
He told me it didn't feel like one at that particular moment.
My heart was hurting, it was something that needed to be said.
I didn't know what the future held.

He had to work harder and learn things differently.   
Through the years, he realized how his brain worked and this became his strength.

He was able to "visualize" the crayon story and he chose to live it!
He turned out to be one of the best crayons ever! 

He is a one of a kind - the rarest crayon in the world.  There is no other like him.  They broke the mold after he was born and I wouldn't trade him for the world!

This post is in honor of him.
He left the other day for college.  
My heart aches.  

I loved everything about raising him.
From the first time I held him in my arms and kissed his little baby face until our hug in the dorm. 

I am so blessed to have had the experience of raising him.  
I love him beyond mere words could ever say.

Yes Billy - life is like a box of crayons, no matter which way you tell it,  my version included.  However, it is how you choose to look at it, that matters the most!  I love you!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Inspirational Colors, Inclusion or Segregation?

I found an inspirational site today that showed every single color imaginable to humankind! 

I didn't know that there was a color of the year.  Did you?

This year's color is:
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango?

Previous annual  colors:

I love color.  I love everything about color.  To me, color equates with beauty.
I can't imagine the world without color.  Can you?

photographer Poras Chaudhary

The main point of this post was to share the above site with you.
Also, to show the color of the year and 2012 fall seasonal colors.

Photo's obtained from "Just Sparkles" on facebook

The colors for  "fall 2012" are beautiful and rich.   You can download a free 29 page pdf file entitled: Pantone Fashion Color Report fall 2012 from the Pantone site.
This report is full of inspiration!

Photo obtained from "Just Sparkles" on facebook

I thought this would be a short post? I was so wrong!!!!!!!

Photo obtained from "Just Sparkles" on facebook

Memories came flooding back from an "assembly" that I used to give and I feel as though I have to share.

I once helped to perform an assembly for an elementary school entitled "Children with differences".
It was to help the teachers, administrators and children understand what "inclusion" was all about.
This assembly was being given in honor of my son and hosted by the Arc of Bucks County.

Inclusion means everyone belongs!

It should have been that Danny attended Simon Butler Elementary School as a "typical" student with his same age brothers.

Instead - he went to a variety of elementary schools because the district housed all students with autism in one elementary school and moved these students every three years.  There is a written rule somewhere that the program needs to stay in that particular school for three years.  With Danny's history, as soon as the three years was up, that school couldn't wait to get rid of   "share" the autism program with another school.

I hate do not believe in this form of education.  It is segregation (which is still being done).  It reminds me of a time when people of color were placed in the back of the bus.

I digress.

The assembly started off by asking the kids to imagine the world if everything were the same.
"What if we all wore the same clothes every day?"
"What if there were no colors?"
"What if there was only one type of flower?"
"What if we all were the same?"
"What if we all sounded the same? talked the same? and played the same?"
The conclusion was reached that we would have such a boring world.

Photo obtained from "Social Hub 09" on facebook

Then we listed all sorts of things that the kids liked to show diversity:
 Favorite candy bar
Most special gift ever
What they did this past weekend
A special family memory...
we all reached a conclusion that everyone had favorite things and activities.  Even people that were "different".

Photo obtained from "Social Hub 09" on facebook

Part three was to define and explain differences in people and that it wasn't a bad thing.
If someone's legs worked differently - they used a wheelchair or crutches.
If someone's hands worked differently - they used modified objects to complete tasks that other people could do with hands that did not work differently  i.e. forks with hooks.
If someone could not use their voice - they might use sign language, pictures, or a talker.

Part three was all about role play.  This helped the children actually feel what it would be like (momentarily) if they themselves had differences.   One specific example:  I would have a child use crutches or a wheelchair and pretend that they were going to the mall to shop and I role played that it would start to rain... (sprinkling can over head with water flitting about).  The child was using the wheelchair, was given an umbrella and also needed to open the door to gain access to the pretend mall to get out of the rain. It was obvious that the child would get wet and very frustrated.   There were many role plays.  I also showed how challenging it might be if you couldn't use your voice to talk, or communicate your needs or if your brain worked differently.

The specific role play that I thought up for individuals who were non-verbal was that I held a platter full of raw vegetables and big chunks of chocolate were placed in the center of the platter.  I asked the child chosen for the role play to stand approx three to five feet away from me.  I asked that child to tell me what they wanted to eat on my plate without using their voice.  I pretended to hand them a raw onion and would say "ohhhhh you want this delicious crunchy onion to eat".  They would shake their head no and point or mouth something unbeknownst to me.... I would then say "Ohhhh you mean you wanted two pieces of onion and a piece of broccoli to go with it.  I'm sorry, I didn't understand you."  I would go on and on "Ohhhhh I see, you want this raw spinach with the onion and one brussel sprout right?  Wait - here - eat it... no eat it... Please eat it.... Wait, look at me.  No look at me.  OK this is what you want, now eat it."  I kept going until I saw signs of frustration then I would stop.  I asked the child to then use their words.  I acted surprised when they said they wanted the chocolate.  I said I didn't realize because I didn't understand what they truly wanted.  I summarized by comparing my sons life everyday to what they just experienced.  He sees a piece of chocolate - no one else does.  Everyone forced things upon him until he would become so frustrated that he may bite his own hand, or scream at the very worst.  I explained his stages of frustration and how you could tell when he was at his limit.

I then asked the child after each role play how they felt.  I also asked each child to imagine having that difference for a lifetime, not just a moment in time and how that might feel.  Finally, I asked the child how they would feel if people stared at them, or worse, pointed and/or laughed.  

The conclusion of the assembly explained differences in children or people -
not that things are broken, but just that things worked differently and that this was okay!

Photo obtained from "Social Hub09" on facebook

I ended up performing this assembly over and over again to many elementary schools.  Eventually I became the Executive Director of The Arc of Bucks County and worked as an advocate for many people within our county.  As of current, I had to give up the job.  It became far to busy and funds were negative.

Photo obtained from "Social Hub 09" on facebook

It was intended more for students, but in hindsight, the adults (administrators) were the ones that needed the increased understanding.   "Inclusion" means everyone belongs.  It is a near and dear subject to my heart.  I spent years fighting the system to have my son "included".

In retrospect, I tried to fight the system and was in due process for several years against the school district.  I ended up home schooling my son from the 3rd grade to present.

In all fairness to both sides, I posted a published paper written by the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education.

Photo obtained from "Social Hub09" on facebook

A Problematic philosophy of "Full Inclusion"
Its effects on policy and practice

by David Weitzel
(Elementary School Principal)

Special education has become an increasingly complicated and uncertain part of public education. The litigious approach to “solving” public school conflicts, especially in the area of special education, has made the job of building principal even more demanding. As an elementary school principal, I am responsible for the education of all students in my school, however, more of my time and energy is devoted to issues related to special education.
Building principals need to balance human and financial resources for both general and special education students. Meetings with the parents of some special education students require disproportionate amounts of time. A principal needs to listen carefully, intelligently and critically. He/she must also have the skills to balance what a special education student may require to maximize that child’s opportunities for success with the possible impact on his/her same age peers in a general education classroom. There is a need to be well informed of special education law and its impact on both general education and special education students.
Advocates of full inclusion and many of the legal decisions rendered over the past 10 to 15 years have caused public schools to rethink the manner in which we meet the educational needs of school-aged children with a variety of handicaps. The handicaps can range from a mild learning disability to a multiple handicapped child. A key part of the current educational debate and of current educational case law is the philosophy of full inclusion. I will examine the impact this philosophy is having on general education and special education students.
Special Education Today
Special education has become a drain on human and financial resources in districts across our country. In large part because the philosophy of full inclusion is out of control and is not in the best interest of all special education students. Inclusion has become an entitlement for most parents of special needs students. The combination of less than adequate funding of IDEA, a costly federal mandate, and the unfair treatment of both general and special education students will further harm the education of all students.
I never thought I would speak those words. I have worked directly with special needs students of all school ages over a thirty-year period starting when I was in high school. During this period of time we have gone from the unfair and inhumane warehousing of disabled or special needs children, to fully including severely disabled children in general education classes with their same aged peers with little or no preparation and without sound educational reasons. I have run the political, educational, personal and emotional gamut. I have moved from being appalled at the warehousing of disabled persons to wondering what, if any, educational value there is in placing a severally disabled child in a general education class all day - full inclusion.
In developing this paper, I am reminded of the American ideal of equality and its impact on the current debate on meeting the needs of the wide range of student needs present in most public schools across this country. Public education represents a “social contract” to educate American children. The passage of Public Law 94-142: Education of All Handicapped Children Act (1875) and The Individuals with Disabilities Act (1997), referred to as IDEA, have called into question the ability of our schools to meet the educational needs of ALL children, handicapped and non-handicapped alike. In particular, the funding levels from both the state and federal government are unjustly inadequate creating a burden on local school districts. Hinman (2003) points out that one of the clearest examples of a social contract right in our own society is to be found in the rights of the disabled. He goes on to say that the Americans with Disabilities Act raises important issues that bear on the controversy between utilitarian approaches to rights and the approaches of the strong rights theorists. For the utilitarian, the rights of the disabled are to be guaranteed only to the extent that doing so maximizes overall utility. Yet the clear message of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that these rights are to be respected, even if doing so does not maximize utility in the narrow sense (Hinman, 2003.)
As with most important educational issues, the just and practical solution to this emotionally, legally, costly and educationally difficult issue is found somewhere in the middle. It cannot be addressed with what has become a misguided philosophical entitlement. I am an elementary school principal in the XYZ School District. Approximately 10% of the students in my school have Individual Educational Plans (IEPs). That does not include gifted or speech and language only IEPs. Our school has both resource rooms and full time learning support classrooms for students whose disabilities are on the autistic support spectrum. I have been involved in two due process hearings both related to the question of legal and just treatment of very needy students. The central question in each case was the degree to which each child’s educational needs could be met in a general education classroom. I will focus on the most recent case I was part of decided within the last month. The hearing officer and the Special Education Appeals Panel decisions provide a measure of reason and educational guidance.
Important Terms: their definition and import
There are a few key ideas that need to be defined in order to more fully understand the issues discussed in this paper. These represent some of the most inflammatory terms often argued about during multi-disciplinary team meetings, Individual Education Plan meetings and due process hearings.
Least restrictive environment: The placement of students with disabilities between the ages of three through twenty-one in appropriate settings has been an integral part of IDEA since its enactment. There are three components to the placing of disabled children in the LRE. They are: 1.) to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are non-disabled; 2.) special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from regular classroom occurs only when the nature or severity of the educational disability is such that education in regular class cannot be achieved satisfactorily with the use of supplementary aides and services; 3.) to the maximum extent appropriate, each child with a disability participates with non-disabled children in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities (IDEA, 1997).
Mainstreaming has been used to refer to the selective placement of special education students in one or more “regular” education classes. Proponents of mainstreaming generally assume that the student must “earn” his or her opportunity to be placed in the regular classes by demonstrating the ability to “keep up” with the work assigned by the regular classroom teacher.
Inclusion is a term which expresses commitment to educate each child to the maximum extent possible, in the school, or classroom he/she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing the supportive services to the child and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class rather than keeping up with the other students in the class.
Full Inclusion means that all students regardless of handicapping condition or severity, will be in a regular education classroom/program full time. All services must be taken to the child in that place. Those who support inclusion believe that the child always should begin in the regular classroom environment and be removed only when appropriate services cannot be provided in the regular classroom.
There are numerous studies that currently advocate for including special education students in the general education classroom for varied amounts of times ranging from time in lunch and recess with same age general education peers to full inclusion (Janney, et. al, 1995; Sapon-Shevin, 2003; Villa and Thousand, 2003). One thing that is immediately obvious is the degree to which the advocates of full inclusion dominate the educational literature. There are few articles that question the benefit to the special education student and speak to the potential harm to the general education program when a severally disabled child is fully included in a general education classroom (Crawford; Rozycki, 2002; Sklaroff, 1994). I found none that focused solely on the financial impact on local school districts of this drastically under funded mandated program. Most articles focused on how to make inclusion work in your school. They addressed the political, educational and school climate issues required to make inclusion a success for all.
Understanding IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) and its implications on each school has become a greater part of each school administrator’s responsibilities. The legal implications of educational decisions as they pertain to special education have never been so difficult and so expensive. The difficulty comes from the pressure associated with balancing the needs of the special education student with the educational interests of the general education students. The financial costs can come from the educational resources associated with including a special education student in a general education classroom or from costly litigation that seems more commonplace.
Least restrictive environment and a child’s degree of need are key legal and educational terms. During the past 28 years, the interpretation of what constitutes the least restrictive environment has evolved, along with schools’ and educators’ abilities to provide effective supports. As a result increased numbers of students with disabilities are now served in both regular schools and general education classes within those schools (Villa and Thousand, 2003).
What is, and is not, in the law.
The trend of meeting the educational and social needs of disabled students in public school and within general education classrooms has made it imperative that principals serve as educational leaders - knowledgeable of special education law and the educational requirements associated with these laws.
It is essential to point out that the term “inclusion” does not appear in any section of IDEA. The IDEA states: Each State must establish procedures to assure that, to the maximum extent possible, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled and that special education, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular education classes with supplementary aides and services cannot be achieve satisfactorily.” 20 U.S.C. 1412(5) (B). Mainstreaming and integration are mentioned. Janney, Snell, Beers and Raynes (p.26, 1995) point out in their article “Integrating Students with Moderate and Severe Disabilities Into General Education Classes” the remedy of integrating children with special needs into the mainstream of the schools while providing them with individualized supports is one educational reform made particularly complex because it forces a tangential relationship between special education and general education to intersect and become more cooperative in nature. Advocates of full inclusion as defined earlier in this paper do not see the need for cooperation between special education and general education; therefore, cooperation and agreement often seem to be a scarce commodity.
Rozycki (2002) writes
“that practices of special education, particularly, that of Inclusion, (treat some students) -- often despite their resistance – as the means to the other individual’s ends. This is a violation of the principle, recognized in many cultures and formulated by Immanuel Kant to the effect that we should always treat individuals as ends-in-themselves, not merely as means to our own, or others’ ends.”
This most recent due process case is an example of parents using the philosophy of full inclusion as a means to their own ends – a need for attention.
The decision in a recent case (Assignment of Stephanie S. in the XYschool) in our school district at my elementary school seems to lend guidance to the question of the degree to which a child with a disability is to be educated in the regular classroom with supplemental aides and services. The Oberti case addressed a central question as to effect on the quality of services that a special needs child receives and the location of those services – a special education setting or a general education setting. This three-prong test was applied in the case in our school:
  1. The child can derive educational or other meaningful benefit;
  2. The child’s presence in the class would not be disruptive;
  3. The cost of including the child is not excessive.
In this Special Education Appeals Panel Review decision (Stephanie S. v. the XYZ School District), the three-judge panel addressed the regulations relevant to the issue of least restrictive environment. The panel cited section 300.550 General LRE requirements that , (b) (2):
“special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”
The question central to the panel’s decision was can Stephanie receive an appropriate education in the regular class 100 percent of the time (full inclusion) or does she require some supplementary special education? The panel needed to balance the student’s right to placement in the least restrictive environment with her right to an appropriate education designed to derive meaningful educational benefit.
The concluding paragraph in this decision speaks directly to the issue of misplaced zealousness of the philosophy of full inclusion experienced with these particular parents. The panel stated, “We agree with the hearing officer’s analysis that the district’s plan is a manifestation of their desire to fight for Stephanie’s right to an appropriate education, not an attempt to exclude her.” It went on to say, “given that both IDEA regulations and the Oberti court indicated that resource and consulting special education support are appropriate supplemental aides and services to enable a student to derive benefit from regular class placement, we are somewhat puzzled by the parents’ insistence on eliminating them. Quite frankly, the district would be remiss if it took this action.”
It is my position that the parents did in fact use their daughter as a means to an end. If reasonable people could agree on the three criteria listed above, there could be fair and helpful mainstreaming for special needs students in public schools.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Special Education Due Process Appeals Panel Review. In Re the Educational Assignment of Stephanie S., a Student in the Central Bucks School District. Opinion No. 1414
Crawford, Donald. “Full Inclusion: One Reason for Opposition.” Wisconsin Press.
Hinman, Lawrence. “Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory.” Thomson-Wadsworth Publishers (2003).
Janney, Snell, Beers, Raynes. “Integrating Students with Moderate and Severe Disabilities Into General Education Classes.” Exceptional Children (1995): pp. 425-439.
Rozycki, Edward. “The Practice of Special Education: Definitely Immoral, Potential Illegal.” Educational Horizons (2002).
Sapon-Shevin, Mara. “Inclusion: A Matter of Social Justice.” Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (2003): pp. 25-28.
Sklaroff, Sara. “A.F.T. Urges Halt to ‘Full Inclusion’ Movement.” Education Week (1994).
Villa and Thousand. “Making Inclusive Education Work.” Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (2003) pp.19-23.
Western Regional Resource Center, “Educating Students with Disabilities in General Education Classrooms: A Summary of the Research.” (July 26, 2003).
Wisconsin Education Association Council, “Special Education Inclusion.” (November 5, 2001).

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