As we move into a new era in America I’d like to take a moment to consider a the prayers, songs and poems from Inauguration Day 2021. Woven into all was a theme of inclusion. All races, walks of life, and yes I even heard for those who process the world differently. It was a call to healing but also to coming together. On my mind recently has been inclusion in the school setting. Before Covid there was a movement to place in segregated classes more than any other time in my 30 year history in education. The reasoning was to be able to better “serve” the student’s needs. I always contended it was more to protect test scores and budgets. As schools began to re-open and “cohorts” were introduced it’s now to protect the health of students. Segregating is occurring even more! This saddens me. I have a few young (preschool and kindergarten) clients who would benefit from being included in general education but districts are not budging with their offers of FAPE. Very little inclusion (mainstreaming for recess and lunch is not inclusion). We know that the research shows that modeling and being with typical peers does wonders on both sides–for the child with special needs as well as the typically developing peer. I personally have witnessed in my own children (now adults) the power of being with children with autism as they grew up. Their characters as adults have been shaped by those experiences and I’m proud of how inclusive they are about ALL. Anyways, I will continue to advocate, especially for those in kindergarten–it’s the best year for inclusion. And I’ll be glad when the pandemic is done so educators stop using it as their excuse and we can have an honest conversation about why they prefer to segregate. Aloha!