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MAINSTREAMING HAS DRAWBACKS

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As I walked into an elementary school the other day, loud yells were coming from a classroom. When I investigated, I found that a "special needs" student had been taken from a special needs classroom and placed in a regular class. What a disruption for the other children. Now, I am aware of the rights of all children to be educated in a "least restrictive environment," but I was under the impression that the child had to be able to function in that environment.

I understand that mainstreaming the special-needs student can be a positive move in some situations, but not all of the students being placed back in the home school are able to function while often they prove to be one more distraction in the other students' learning environment. It seems that the time has come for parents of students in regular classrooms to put their collective foot down and say "enough is enough."Isn't quality education from the state a right to all people? What of the other 25-30 students? Should they be sacrificed to appease the whims of a parent who cannot or will not admit that their child needs special help? Can't they understand that just because the child with special needs is put in with other "regular" students does not mean he will model the behavior and become "normal."

There are people who are trained to teach these students. Their interests are geared to these kids' special needs. They teach these children how to survive in the world, not just to stand idle and try to fit in or "look normal." The facilities are there for their development both physically and mentally. I don't understand why adults, or caretakers, don't seek after programs designed for their child. Wouldn't it be nice if every child had these doors open for them?

It has been my observation that the schools' special education department is spreading itself a little thin also. Now, not only are the disruptions in the normal classroom, but students who suffer attention problems or learning disorders who could be helped in a resource center are losing services there also. They're not being seen as much or attended to because of lack of time.

How can teachers or students do their best in the regular classroom with so many distractions or pressures? It seems that they should be placed where there are people qualified to teach these children according to their own individual needs. It also stands to reason that teachers who are trained to teach "normal" children already face a mound of problems in today's schools.

Tristen Blackburn

West Valley City