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Becoming a Great Inclusive Educator

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Edited By Scot Danforth

Inclusive education continues to grow in popularity and acceptance in the United States. However, most teachers – general and special educators – are poorly prepared to be successful in inclusive classrooms and schools. Undoubtedly, the challenge to professionals involves the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. But inclusion requires far more. It calls upon educators to trouble everything they think they know about disability, to question their deepest ethical commitments, to take up the work of the Disability Rights Movement in the public schools, and to leap headlong into the deepest waters of the rich craft tradition of inclusive teaching. This book offers educators the guidance and resources to become great inclusive educators by engaging in a powerful process of personal and professional transformation.
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Chapter 20: What 20+ Years of Secondary Inclusion Has Taught Us

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CHAPTER TWENTY

What 20+ Years of Secondary Inclusion Has Taught Us

DOUGLAS FISHER & NANCY FREY



In some ways, it seems so long ago, and in other ways it was just yesterday. Although we have learned a lot about providing inclusive educational experiences for adolescents with disabilities since 1992, it’s hard to forget the first student with a significant disability who was included in regular education classes in San Diego, California. We had wanted to try inclusive education for several months, mainly because we had heard stories told by Ian Pumpian, Jeff Strully, Jan Nisbet, and Rich Villa that challenged our thinking and clearly demonstrated that it was possible to educate children inclusively, at least at the elementary school level. When these experts spoke about students that looked like ours, we realized that we were holding our students back. If Jeff’s daughter had attended our school at that time, she would have been segregated. Luckily, she attended a school that understood the range of supports that were necessary to appropriately educate all students.

Today, we recognize that geography is the greatest predictor of inclusive education—not disability. It’s where you live that matters. The high school where we work now educates a wide range of students with very diverse needs. Some of them have disabilities, and some of those students would be identified as having significant disabilities. Other students have histories of drug abuse, or have probation...

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