Yes and no. Children with special needs are part of the education system. As teachers, we are expected to teach those children. Many general education teachers feel that special needs students should be separated, that they don’t have the time to deal with them. The truth is, special education doesn’t have anything extra than general education, we just use best teaching practices to ensure that all students receive the education they need and deserve. At the same time, it is unreasonable to expect a general education teacher to come up with and follow the curriculum and the IEP goals of many special needs students while also ensuring that they are following the correct curriculum for their general education students. In this way, the co-teaching model can be extremely useful because both teachers are working together to keep track of all of the students in the class, special and general education students. Special ed teachers are also often more highly trained in behavior management and may be able to help the general education teacher in the behavior management of their students with special needs. Special education teachers are also more highly trained in organizational and data-collecting techniques which they use to monitor all of their students individual progress towards their goals. Special education emphasizes keeping track of their progress from charts and tables and graphs, which allow for the teacher to rapidly change up the instruction to make sure that all students are understanding and progressing towards their individual goals. At the same time, it is important for children with special needs to be educated in the least restrictive environment, and as much as possible, with their non-disabled peers. Unfortunately, recently teachers have become overburdened with too many students in a classroom, and many are overwhelmed with their general education classes because they need to monitor all of their students. To add on more children, especially those with special needs would certainly be too much for most teachers. We need to reduce class sizes so that special education children can be integrated effectively and so that all of our students are getting the education they deserve.
by Jessica McClenny Trager