Abstract

Kauffman, Felder, Ahrbeck, Badar, and Schneiders (this issue) call for a more temperate approach to inclusion, arguing against its use in educating all students with disabilities. We argue in response that the issue should not be framed as “inclusion versus non-inclusion,” asserting that our field would benefit by examining the alternatives that actually exist across the globe for educating children with and without disabilities. We first provide four concepts that are central to understanding how education is conceptualized and practiced on a global scale: (a) education for all (EFA), interpreted as nations valuing an educated citizenry; (b) primary and secondary education, discussed to make clear real differences in how these two periods of schooling are handled across nations; (c) tracking, the worldwide practice of ability grouping that affects the education of all students; and (d) comprehensive local schools, regionally centralized facilities educating all children, which offer the potential for greater equity. We follow the latter with five schooling “models” that represent the major educational options worldwide: (a) the selective schools model, which controls educational access, often with academic criteria; (b) the separate schools model, which tracks students into different facilities; (c) the tracked schools model, which stratifies students within the same facility; (d) the multi-tiered schools model, which starts with general education settings and curriculum, then provides interventions or programs as needed; and (e) the equity schools model, which uses general education settings and curriculum, providing supports as needed. We conclude with four points: (a) neither resource scarcity nor presumed limitations in general education capacity should preclude inclusive education; (b) the comprehensive local school provides a good base for enhancing equity in educational opportunity for students with and without disabilities; (c) special education is tracking, seriously impacting equity; and (d) inclusive schooling provides the best approach to EFA in the long run.

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