Contributed by Jessica Allan
Recently I listened to an incredible podcast episode of This American Life called “A Not-So-Simple Majority”. If you want to be transported by a dramatic saga complete with financial crises, allegations of racism, legal woes, a truly divided community, and a compelling treatise on our education system, I’d highly recommend it. The central question this true story raises is whether a group of people who don’t use the public school system should control the school board, which really means the money. But another issue that comes up during the episode is whether the law that places students with disabilities in the least restricted environment—a public school classroom with their typically developing peers—is always just.
I admit I’ve always assumed it was. Inclusion is the law in the United States and what could be worse than its antithesis, exclusion? Unless we believe in segregation, then our schools must be inclusive. Students should learn not only from their teachers but also from one another. Discovering the myriad ways that kids acquire information and develop is at the heart of Corwin’s special and gifted education lists. I use the word “discovering” because this is an area of education that is open for exploration; that is constantly evolving and changing. Although one could and should make the argument that all children are special, students who don’t learn or behave in the “normal” way will always challenge and fascinate their parents, peers, and teachers.
Wouldn’t it be great if every student had an IEP (without all the paperwork, of course)? We know that each is different and has his or her own strengths, needs, ideas, beliefs, preferences. We also know that despite the law that has governed our schools for more than a decade many children do get left behind. But teachers can be the key to academic and social success.
Just out in April are two books that tackle how to create optimal environments for children’s growth. Sally Spencer’s Making the Common Core Writing Standards Accessible Through UDL describes why students struggle with writing, especially while trying to meet more rigorous standards, and provides strategies that teachers can use to help students be successful. Rae Pica’s What If Everybody Understood Child Development? hones in on our younger learners and describes not only the seemingly arbitrary—and often harmful—ways that schools are treating our children in the name of educational policy, but also offers teachers and parents solid ideas to boost their achievement in ways that are developmentally appropriate and research-based.
For 25 years general, special, and gifted educators have found resources at Corwin that impact their practice and students’ outcomes, from co-teaching and classroom management to behavioral supports and bullying prevention. Feel free to explore…and learn!
Jessica Allan, a Senior Acquisitions Editor at Corwin, began her career in publishing more than 20 years ago in New York City. After working in the trade side of the business, she found her niche in educational publishing and has a particular interest in struggling learners, what we can learn about educating children from the field of neuroscience, and safe school climates.