Deep Inclusion, Education, and Real Community
Sometimes our caveman-tribal brain wins.
The thin layer of civilization that we all cling to disappears and our baser instincts prevail.
It happened at our last school board meeting. It didn’t have anything (directly) to do with special needs kids. And I was part of it.
It started innocently enough. Our board was providing its inputs to the LCAP, California’s management tool for connecting budgets and policies together.
The topic was “pull-out reading support” – extra resources to help kids who have difficulty reading. Students get one-on-one time with a reading specialist.
One of our trustees asked about whether there was a better way…
… couldn’t the kids be supported “in class”
… so they wouldn’t be “embarrassed”
… the discussion went on
… quite a while actually
… no one really objected
… no one really said anything
… when the board finished their discussion and the public could make comments…
But not on this.
The next day it bugged me.
The day after it bugged me a lot.
Because, if it is “embarrassing” for a student with reading difficulty to get help.
… then what about someone with more serious reading problems?
An English Learner.
Should the school figure out “some way” to handle this is the classroom (presumably in a manner that is less effective than one-on-one support)>
… to avoid “embarrassment”?
Isn’t school first and foremost about education?
Shouldn’t kids feel comfortable asking for (and accepting) the help that they need to learn – no matter how it is provided (and if it works)?
This is the battle we are fighting.
The problem here isn’t the student who needs help reading, it is the culture that punishes her for asking for help or taking advantage of the available services.
Don’t we want kids to ask for help when they need it?
Don’t we want adults to ask for help – without shame?
If a stigma prevents a child from learning, a teacher from teaching, a parent from helping, a professional from serving….
the stigma is the problem.
Whether it is “simply” a reading challenge.
Or difficulty with English.
Or anything that keeps kids from achieving their potential because of social pressures to conform.
Deep inclusion goes beyond the kids traditionally in special education.
All kids and all of us are going to need help sometime.
We’re going to need to ask.
We shouldn’t be afraid to do so.
Deep inclusion is our educational responsibility.
Real community for all of our kids (and all of us) is our goal.