The following is an excerpt from Education Week’s article, Schools Should Boost Inclusion of Students With Disabilities, Special Olympics Leader Says.
The United States does more to ensure access to education for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities than many other countries—but the nation’s schools have work to do to ensure all students feel a sense of inclusion and belonging, said Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics.
“High-quality programs that imbue children with greater empathy and moral courage, support for teacher training and staff development, and rigorous measurement and evaluation of school culture and climate, as well as resources commensurate with the needs of communities, are all critical elements of the inclusive practices that usher in lasting change,” Shriver wrote in an open letter Wednesday.
That letter, written on the International Day of Education, provided a glimpse at the state of inclusion around the world. Among its findings: Only 16 countries refer to “inclusive education” in their education laws. The United States’ education laws do not explicitly mention inclusion, but laws that provide designated funding and protections for students with disabilities set it apart from the 25 percent of countries worldwide whose laws call for segregation of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.