A worldwide revolution is occurring in education of learners experiencing disabilities. The Special Education model is being replaced by Inclusive Education, educating all learners together in the regular classrooms of community schools. Inclusive Education is not simply a new way to educate students who differ in ability, hearing, vision, behaviour, or body. It is based in sweeping change of how we regard people experiencing disability and their right to full participation in society.
As with all change, Inclusive Education is not welcomed by everyone. Some governments, educational administrators, teachers, and parents prefer the Special Education approach, which regards some learners experiencing disability as so different that they cannot learn in the company of their typical peers. Under this view, they must be separated for their own good. However, increasing numbers of people in every nation see and argue for the social justice of bringing all learners together in school. They understand that difference is a reason to be included.
This book presents snapshots of the struggle of educational change as seven nations respond to this new human rights understanding of how education and disability should intersect. In various ways and at different levels, each is experiencing the tension and excitement, which always accompany change.
Gary Bunch is Chair, Marsha Forest Centre and National Director of the recently formed Canadian Assocation of Inclusive Educators. His teaching career includes experience as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university professor. He has been active in research into inclusive education, and has published books and articles in the same area. Recently, he has gained experience in a number of nations as a consultant in inclusive education.
Dr. Angela Valeo is an Assistant Professor with the School of Early Childhood Education and the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Ryerson. Angela has many years of elementary school teaching experience with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Areas of specialization and research concern the inclusion of students with special needs into the regular classroom of their neighborhood school. Angela also works closely with community groups such as the Marsha Forest Centre to promote inclusive practices in schools and communities.