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Toronto, Canadian Education Association, cl985. 36pp, paper, $4.00, ISBN 0-92031 5-06-2.

Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

At a time when integration of exceptional students into regular program classrooms is proceeding apace, this examination of the motivation behind the move, the philosophies and practical experiences of those boards already engaged in the enterprise, and the questions raised but yet to be answered, make important, indeed crucial reading for all those with a stake in the proceedings, i.e.. administrators, educators, special education teachers, and parents. The Council for Exceptional Children defines "main-streaming" as "an educational placement procedure for exceptional children based on the conviction that each child should be educated in the least restrictive environment in which his or her educational and related needs can be satisfactorily addressed."

One hundred and seventy questionnaires were addressed to Canadian boards of education across the nation, and of that number, one hundred and seventy responded. All but one of those responding are already engaged in mainstreaming; the one remaining is in the process of formulating a policy to deal with the issue. All supported any measure that will serve to integrate the handicapped child into the society of his/her peers as far as is possible and helpful for that child. All share a concern that the challenges of regular classes may be such as to hamper some childrens' progress, and that some parents may develop unrealistic expectations for their children once placed in regular classrooms. It is plain from the responses that the deepest concerns, and the heaviest responsibilities, will fall on the already burdened classroom teacher, and it is equally obvious that if mainstreaming is to succeed, those teachers involved will require special, additional training, pre-service, and on-going in-service, continuing support, and the presence of specialized resource personnel. A quotation from the response submitted by the York Board of Education, emphasized in the document, stresses that "These children are not, and it is important they do not become, the sole responsibility of the special class teachers or the special services staff."

Mainstreaming is a heavy challenge, and one that must be met, but teachers, administrators, parents, and the often-forgotten partners to the experiment, those regular students with whom the incoming exceptional students will share facilities, must be adequately motivated and prepared, if the results of mainstreaming are to be as happy as all educators hope they will be. This brief document is a thought-provoking pointer in the right direction, for all of us. A select bibliography on mainstreaming literature to date, will provide further particulars.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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