DPS launches ‘full inclusion’ effort

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools is mainstreaming about 5,000 high school special education students into general education classrooms, a “full inclusion” model that it says is better for students and required under federal rules, according to The Detroit News.

The transition has left some parents and teachers unhappy with the level of training and student support, The News reported.

The shift encourages children to do more by setting a higher bar, allows students to earn a diploma rather than a certificate of completion, and means students are no longer isolated in special education classrooms, officials told The News. Another reason for the move is that the district faces a 20 percent reduction in special education funding if it does not reach inclusion targets, The News reported.

Nina Zarka, parent of a special education student, told The News that the district has not kept a promise to have extra teachers in the general education classrooms to help special needs students. Some teachers also have said that staff members and aides have not had sufficient training, The News reported.

But Renee Kidd, lead special education teacher at Central High School, told The News that some special education students do not want to return to an isolated classroom even if they are failing the general education class because they prefer the inclusion.

The Detroit News, “DPS grows special education plan,” Dec. 3, 2010

Michigan Education Report, “Specializing in special education,” Feb. 1, 2010