Partnership with Special Olympics Examines Need for Expanded Opportunities in Classrooms and on Playing Fields
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Much has changed in the 37 years since Congress first guaranteed access to a free and appropriate education for disabled students, as the methods and practices of educating special needs children are continually evolving as evidence and experience dictate. As researchers learn more it is important to remember that policymakers are responsible for not only creating standards and guidelines to help ensure students' academic success, but also their social and emotional well-being. One avenue for this may lie in social inclusion.
Working with Special Olympics, "Social Inclusion: A New Look at 'All Means All' for Students with Disabilities," the latest issue of The State Education Standard—the award-winning journal of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)—explores the growing practice of social inclusion, including what it encompasses, how it is practiced in the field, and why its goals are critically important to so many people.
A highlight of the journal is an article by Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Dr. Timothy P. Shriver about progress made by Project UNIFY® in bringing students of different abilities together to create supportive relationships. Project UNIFY operates in schools by integrating Special Olympics programs into a youth-led model of student engagement and focuses on developing school communities where all youth are agents of change—fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.
The issue also features an article by Alexa Posny, the former head of the U.S. Education Department's special education office, that explains federal law, "least restrictive environment," and the multifaceted academic and social benefits of inclusion. Other pieces in this must-read issue examine the need for ensure all teachers to be prepared to work with all students, how inclusion can reduce bullying of schools' most-vulnerable students, and the physical development benefits of inclusion in sports.
"State boards of education are concerned with the social and emotional well-being of children, as well as their academics," said NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson. "Inclusion is not just about mainstream and special needs students sitting next to each other in an occasional class. Rather, it is important because it shows they can work together and share leadership roles in classes and in sports. Schools are where the promise of America comes true—for all children."
"We are thrilled to be in partnership with NASBE on The State Education Standard, not only because it highlights our critical work in schools, but because of the need for the on-going conversation on social and emotional learning for all students," said Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Dr. Timothy P. Shriver. "It serves as a reminder that we have much more to do to support our students, with and without intellectual disabilities, whether it is through sports, youth leadership and education."
Publication of this edition of the Standard was made possible with support from Special Olympics. For more information about the issue, including how to access online and order copies, go to http://bit.ly/16yBSsf.
The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America's state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit www.nasbe.org.
Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports every day around the world. Through work in sports, health education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 70,000 competitions throughout the year. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics.
SOURCE National Association of State Boards of Education