Over the last couple of years, schools in Long Island have been placing fewer students in Special Education classes. Instead, some Long Island students with special needs have been receiving tutoring to help them keep up with their school work.
Mainstreaming Students in schools Long Island
On the face of it, mainstreaming special needs students attending schools in Long Island into a regular classroom as much as possible makes sense. If the special-needs student can attend classes with his or her peers, there is a cost savings for the board of education. No matter what we want for our children attending schools in Long Island, there are only so many dollars available for education.
For too long, children who were “different” were kept away from the mainstream. Students in the regular education stream didn’t have a lot of opportunities to get to know them or interact with them. Special Education students were the object of suspicion and/or ridicule, simply because other students didn’t understand them; all they knew was that these other children were different. Being different was not something to be celebrated at that point.
Any measure that helps students attending schools in Long Island learn to be tolerant of others can only be for the good. Humans tend to be suspicious of things (and people) they don’t understand. With time, mainstreaming can help to reinforce the idea that there is no “Us” and “Them” at Long Island schools. All students are in the environment to learn together and to learn from each other.
Schools in Long Island Need to Ensure Students Don’t Fall Through the Cracks
It would be most unfortunate if, in the interest of saving a few dollars, students who need to be in a different learning environment to do their best work were denied access to Special Education programs. We shouldn’t be too quick to either segregate students from their peers or to push them into the mainstream learning environment in schools in Long Island.
Instead, we need to take the time and allocate the appropriate resources so that a thorough investigation is conducted when a student is having trouble learning at schools. Only with a proper diagnosis of a difficulty, can a plan be implemented in schools in Long Island to address that student’s needs.
Our children are our most valuable resource. When they don’t get the support they need to become effective learners, we are setting them up to fail in life. It would be far better for teachers and school administrators in Long Island to find out what the students’ needs are and find the resources to meet them, whether in the regular classroom or an alternate one.