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A Quarter Century of Inclusive Education for Children with Intellectual Disabilities in Ontario: Public Perceptions

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Author and Resource Info: 
Philip Burge, Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, and Nancy Hutchinson

Surveyed 680 adults from across Ontario to find out their opinions on inclusive education.

Understanding the views of the public is an important factor in developing and evaluating policy on inclusive education. This article presents the results of an opinion poll conducted by an alliance of researchers and community partners to measure public perceptions regarding inclusive education of students with an intellectual disability, the related impacts, and obstacles to expansion. Participants were 680 adults across a large region of Ontario. Respondents held divergent views about the best type of schooling for children with intellectual disabilities; 52% viewed some degree of inclusive education in regular schools as best while about 42% believed that education in special schools was best. When asked to first assume inclusion in regular schools was occurring, about one third of respondents believed that it would cause discipline problems, and make it harder for other students to learn. Schools‟ lack of special resources (79%) and teachers being unprepared to teach students with intellectual disabilities (69%) were seen as obstacles to inclusion. Analyses identified younger age and having known someone with an intellectual disability who was not a family member, as associated with inclusive views. Policy implications are discussed.