Since the 1980's, more and more schools have begun to practice the technique of inclusion and mainstreaming in their classrooms. These practices involve the integration of special education students into regular education classrooms. This is an extremely controversial idea because it relates to educational and social values, as well as our sense of individual worth (Educational Resources). While full inclusion of all students into regular classrooms may not be beneficial to all, inclusion is a way of educating our students the must be practiced.
Mainstreaming is a term used to refer to the selective placement of special education students into one or more "regular" classes. In order for a student to be placed into these classrooms, mainstreaming generally assumes that a student will earn his or her place in the class by having the ability to keep up with the assigned work (Educational Resources). This process takes children with mild disabilities in subjects such as reading or math and lets them work in a "normal" setting (Taus ch). Inclusion takes this process one step further. The practice of inclusion derives from the principle of providing the least restrictive environment and from the civil rights movement (Mills). It involves placing the child in a regular classroom and bringing the support services to the child rather than bringing the child to his help (Educational Resources).
Full inclusion would be placing all students, regardless of handicapping condition or severity, into a regular classroom / program full time. All services would then have to be taken to the child in that setting (Educational Resources). Almost every state and most school districts are attempting to integrate students with special needs into regular schools and classrooms. This integration derives from their legal force from the "least restrictive environment" section of Public Law 94-142 (as amended by Public Law 101-476) which states that: " to the maximum extent appropriate, handicapped children, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, [must be] educated with children who are not handicapped" (NEA)..