Fighting for Inclusive Education Feels Like Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is a bizarre American tradition where we rely on the weather expertise of Punxsutawney Phil—a groundhog—to determine whether spring will come early or late. And from that concept came the hilarious nearly-30-year-old movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray.
For those of you who have seen the movie, and even those who haven’t, you probably know the premise is simple: Bill Murray is stuck living one day (Groundhog Day) over and over and over again.
Although he learns to make the most of it, for the majority of the movie, Bill Murray is completely miserable being stuck in this situation. I think we all can admit that reliving the same day over and over is a form of punishment that would get old very quickly.
But I personally have to admit that sometimes this is how the fight for inclusive education feels.
Despite the fact that 40 years of research proves that inclusive education works, it’s still not the norm. The norm in our schools today is that students with disabilities are segregated due to their disability label.
While there are schools all over the country and world that are implementing inclusion in their classrooms and school districts, the majority of the United States is left in a perpetual Groundhog Day situation: We are stuck in the same education system that we have been stuck in for years, where students with disabilities are shipped off to special education classrooms because their right to be placed in their neighborhood school, participating in the general education curriculum along with their nondisabled peers, is not being recognized.
How is it that after all this time we are still failing to meet the bare minimum of placing students with disabilities in the general education classroom? Why do these students still have to “prove” themselves in order for a general education placement to even be considered?
Even though fighting to make inclusive education a reality is so worth it, it’s exhausting when you feel like you’re restarting the fight every single day. Every day, we are asked the same questions and are giving the same research-based answers to the same administrators, educators, and families who doubt that inclusive education works. Every day our disabled students are forced to prove they are worthy of being included.
But the fight continues because I, like so many others, believe there is going to be a happy ending. The days might give me déjà vu and the wait might be long, but eventually, spring will come.
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Kayla Kingston is the Communications Specialist for MCIE. A recent graduate of the University of Dayton, she loves reading, writing, and supporting all things inclusion.