Throughout the month of December, we are celebrating the 11th Annual Inclusive Schools Week and, as our theme for the month states, we will focus on a broader context of inclusion.
Although the Inclusive Schools Network has focused on inclusive practices for students with disabilities since its inception in 2000, the core beliefs and legal underpinnings relate equally to all groups. When I began my teaching career and for many years thereafter, my attention was fully occupied with the need for quality services for students with disabilities and their issues regarding equal access, opportunity, hours of instruction, teacher quality, and resources. I would admit to "compartmentalized" thinking that saw equity and equality primarily through the lens of children with disabilities.
I have spoken to many educators recently about what I will characterize as a shift in perspective - one that increasingly focuses on equity and social justice for any individual who is impacted by race, culture, religion, language, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, and any other way in which society has categorized individuals. In these discussions, we agree that it is becoming more and more difficult to think that we can be concerned for equality for one group without feeling the same level of passion and concern for social justice for all other groups.
We encourage the members of the Inclusive Schools Network to practice the following philosophies:
- It is not possible for a school to be excellent unless it is equitable.
- It is not possible to be inclusive for some children unless we are inclusive of all children.
We are proud to suggest these two outstanding resources for our members to consider in your own continuing efforts to fully understand and embrace the mindset and the practice of inclusive schools:
Frances Stetson, Ph.D.
President, Stetson & Associates, Inc.