To the Editor:
Reading "Closing the Gap: School Board Candidates Offer Perspectives on Failing Scores for Students with Disabilities" [Gazette Packet, Oct. 25] made me think of a boy I went to school with named David (name has been changed). David and I both went to Charles Barrett Elementary School and continued with the ACPS school system through high school. David was learning-disabled and in elementary school his tantrums were legendary.
David and I shared a few classes in Charles Barrett and he had a tendency to get overwhelmed which always seemed to result in a seizure or a tantrum. Looking back I realize these classes were inclusion classes. I think part of the reason David was so frustrated, was that he couldn’t keep up. The rest of the class, for the most part, was just worried about learning the stuff we needed to know in order to pass the test. David however, had a lot more than that to worry about. He was being socialized into a class that he maybe wasn’t prepared for.
Although it’s easy to see how inclusion classes can serve a valuable purpose in preparing learning-disabled students for the real world, it seems that 80 percent of the school day spent in inclusion classes may do more harm than good. Learning disabled students, like all students, need and benefit from the social skills we learn in school that aren’t necessarily a part of the curriculum. However, learning-disabled students, with pass rates as low as 27 percent in some subjects, aren’t going to make it to graduation on social skills alone. I don’t think inclusion classes should be eliminated, but maybe reducing the amount of time per day in these classes from 80 percent to 50 percent would be beneficial. That way these students can receive the specialized attention they need to pass standardized tests without giving up the real world social skills they will need after graduation.