In our world today, we are embracing changes necessary to protect the practices in education and society essential to making a positive difference for all. In schools where inclusive education flourishes, there is an inspirational, more positive culture. Widely diverse students are members of their school community while participating and progressing in a strong standards-based curriculum. Skills and creativity of teachers continually present new opportunities for students who were traditionally educated in separate environments, but now have a place among their peers. This year, we encourage you to be more engaged in sharing those stories and the actions that led to achieved success. With these exemplars available to us, we can learn more ways to STAND UP, SIT TALL FOR INCLUSION* because inclusion results in improved outcomes for ALL students!
In inclusive schools, there is a higher level of collaboration among all educators, parents and students who are empowered to assume leadership roles in their schools and communities. There is no substitute for the energy and knowledge that parents bring to schools. Teachers must plan and teach together, while sharing a strong sense of responsibility for the learning and success of every student. The language of separation, “my students, your students, and those students,” must disappear. Separate names, locations in a school building, classes and lunch periods must remain a thing of the past. Social scientists understand the ability to collaborate is one of the defining characteristics of a successful society. The very soul of inclusion demands that parents, students, teachers, administrators and community leaders tear down old, ineffectual walls and limitations to achieve a shared vision for the success of all. If we practice inclusiveness, mutual respect and civility in our schools, perhaps we will offer a stronger model for changing the divisiveness and territorial behavior witnessed today in so many settings. Inclusion results in shared ownership and positive collaborative relationships. STAND UP, SIT TALL FOR INCLUSION!
Inclusive practices represent the polar opposite of exclusion. The effects of which are seen on the front pages of newspapers, in the rise of bullying in schools and the workplace, the community, and in the scenes that play out each day with regard to our differences: differences in race, religion, language, country of origin, disability, zip code and economic status. Inclusive practices enable us to model for the world that our strength comes from our diversity and our humanity toward each other. In a recent news article, two little boys wanted to look just alike by getting identical haircuts. The first thing that most people noticed when looking at the accompanying picture was the difference in their race. Their image reflects the core beliefs of inclusion. Can’t we all find a way in our own lives to reflect those beliefs? Inclusion views diversity as strength. STAND UP, SIT TALL FOR INCLUSION!
Finally, our theme this year reminds us that we can each make a difference by taking a stand. With conversations at the national level of reversing accountability for the learning of all students and our commitment to signature legislation that has been a model for the world in educating students with disabilities, we must not be complacent about our responsibility to defend and promote the moral necessity of inclusion in our schools and communities. During celebrations in countries around the world, Inclusive Schools WeekTM is celebrated the first week of each December. The Week features parents and educators as they champion inclusion. This year, let’s double our efforts to present the full picture of inclusive schools with stories that bring the concept of inclusion to life and data that validates our commitment to more effective services and positive outcomes. Inclusion is not a privilege but a civil right. Our work is not done but working together we will STAND UP, SIT TALL FOR INCLUSION!
* Inclusive Schools Network focuses on your message and not on physical or other limitations, so STAND UP, SIT TALL FOR INCLUSION any way you can!
Please send your stories of inclusive success to firstname.lastname@example.org – we are eager to share them with others.