The debate centered around four key issues. These issues included the exclusion of many students who needed special educational support; the withholding of special programs until the student failed rather than making specially designed instruction available earlier to prevent failure; no support for promoting cooperative, supported partnerships between educators and parents; and using pull-out programs to serve students with disabilities rather than adapting the general education program to accommodate their needs. Ultimately, the regular education initiative caused significant changes in the entire approach to special education. A new term, inclusion, and a new technique, collaboration, evolved.

There was considerable resistance to these concepts. Many charged that integration and mainstreaming basically meant dumping. The controversy is reflected in the efforts of Doug Biklen and his colleagues to be very clear about what integration did and did not mean.

woman and children interacting
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden