Teaching STEM #4Real

S3 E4: Special Education And Inclusion In STEM

February 26, 2024  |  41 mins

Welcome to another episode of the Teaching STEM #4Real podcast! In this episode, we are excited to speak with Beth Lakretz, Executive Director and Founder of Lakretz Creative Support Services. 

Beth has over 30 years of experience supporting the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education settings. She started her career as a special education teacher and consultant before founding her own organization focused on inclusive education.

In this conversation, Beth unpacks key issues around inclusion and special education:

- The difference between inclusion and co-teaching models
- Barriers to full inclusion of students with more significant disabilities 
- The problem with the "continuum of services" approach
- Overrepresentation of students of color in special education
- The need for teachers AND administrators to shift mindsets around disability and belonging

Some key insights from Beth:

- Inclusion is a philosophy that all students belong and can learn together in general ed classrooms. Co-teaching is just one service delivery model.

- The "least restrictive environment" clause actually prohibits full inclusion by offering more segregated options when teams struggle.

- Implicit biases about disability lead to lower expectations and removal of students to separate classrooms.  

- Preservice teacher training lacks depth in special ed and inclusive instructional approaches.

- Systems change requires both philosophical shifts AND practical coaching around inclusive instruction.

This conversation brings so much richness and nuance around moving toward more inclusive models. Beth shares touching stories of students from her 30+ years in the field.

To learn more about Beth's organization, visit www.lakretz.com.

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Teaching STEM #4Real is a podcast dedicated to #4Real conversations on educational equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education hosted by Dr. Leena Bakshi McLean. If you’re interested in exploring what anti-racism and socially just instruction looks like in our classrooms, schools, and beyond, you are in the right place. Dr. Bakshi is also the founder of the non-profit,⁠ STEM4Real⁠. Please visit our⁠ website⁠ for information on how to partner with us. Thank you for helping us make STEM, #4Real.

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