Should Special Education Students Mix With Mainstream Classes?

When we make decisions about the way schools are run, we are of course trying to create the best possible environment for the students who will be spending their time in those schools. These kinds of choices have a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of kids, and on the way they are able to learn and grow. Naturally, getting these decisions right is a huge deal, and should be the utmost priority of the faculty and administrative personnel at any school. Additionally, when creating or changing policies that relate to special education, it is perhaps even more important to make an informed decision because the students involved are often facing enough challenges as it is.So that means it is particularly vital to address the question of whether or not special ed students should be able to mix in mainstream classes. This is a controversial question with a lot of good points on both sides, and it is key to remember that although we may disagree with each other on some points, as long as everyone involved can keep the welfare of all kids involved at the forefront of their minds, and as long as we are open and honest with ourselves and each other about the ramifications of the different choices, we can come up with a positive solution to the problem that will benefit everyone involved as much as possible.On the one side of the question, there are people who think that special education students should be mixed with mainstream students. There are a lot of reasons to think this might be a good idea. It could give the special ed students the opportunity to be exposed to and to learn from a slightly more challenging curriculum. After all, if they never get a chance to try to learn something a little harder, how will anyone know whether or not they can handle it? Mixing classrooms can also be very beneficial from a social perspective, because it would give two groups of students who are usually separated the chance to spend time around each other. The mainstream students could get a chance to spend some time around special education students and become more familiar and comfortable with them, while the special education students could benefit from spending time around mainstream kids in a way that would better prepare them for the real world.Of course, there is the other side of the equation as well. If the two groups of students are really operating at different levels intellectually, it could be counter-productive for both groups. Teachers might end up having to teach a course that is too hard for the special ed students and too easy for the mainstream students, which won’t be helpful for anyone. There could also be a situation where the teachers try to teach both courses–a more difficult one and a less difficult one–simultaneously, and it is hard to imagine that going well.In the end, like so many of these situations, the best answer is probably to handle the situation on a case-by-case basis. We must remember that all special education kids operate at different levels, and while some could perform well in a mainstream class, some will not be able to. As long as we allow for teachers, students, and their parents to have some flexibility in deciding together what is the best step to take, we will be able to create the best situation for the students involved.