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Inclusion by Design, not by Default

July 27, 2010

By Fran Pearlman

It is time that we are proactive and assertive in both our philosophy and in our actions as we move towards Jewish educational institutions of inclusion by design.

In 1981 I began my administrative career in Jewish education in a part-time position. The responsibilities were described as hiring, training, and supervising staff; creating programs; and writing curriculum. Nothing was shared about the students in terms of learning styles or preferences, and certainly the words “inclusion” or “special needs” were never mentioned. At that time, special education was a separate entity in the secular world and certainly in the Jewish education world. There were separate classrooms with specifically trained and experienced faculty who, theoretically, met the needs of those students who were classified as “special edu.”

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