Why Inclusion? • 7 Inclusion as an educational movement began to develop during the same period. Many special educators in the late 1960s realized that children with challenges benefited greatly from early intervention. Shortly after, pioneers in the field of special education began setting up pilot programs to test the effects of placing toddlers and preschool-age children with differences in classrooms with “typically” developing children. While these programs were often viewed as successes, they were different from inclusive preschool programs today: as many pioneers acknowledge, they pulled special education practices for elemen- tary school students downward to preschoolers, and the programs were created for therapeutic research (Bricker 2000). It was only later, as the IDEA-era move- ment toward “mainstreaming” took off, that inclusion moved into the world of existing early childhood programs, and teachers began to develop practices tailored to accommodating preschoolers of all strengths and challenges. Families, educators, administrators, and legislators have carried on a lively debate since the dawn of inclusion on whether children with disabilities should never, always, or sometimes share curriculum and classrooms with their typically developing peers. The issue has been addressed from the per- spectives of moral responsibility, educational effectiveness, and, especially as public schools face growing budget challenges, financial efficiency. In early childhood education, inclusion became a focus of great inter- est as the number of children under five years of age identified with special needs began to climb in the 1990s. Without the safety net of public schools to guarantee access for all children, early childhood educators faced the difficult choice of accommodating children with challenges or leaving their families with little or no alternative. In this light, early childhood educators have felt the moral pull toward inclusion strongly. While differing viewpoints are far from resolved, inclusion has been accepted as an important educational philosophy and practice. A joint posi- tion statement by the Division for Early Childhood and NAEYC states Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and prac- tices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belong- ing and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential. (Division for Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children 2009, 2) What Is Inclusion? At its heart, inclusion is a very simple concept: educate children with and without disabilities together, in the same programs. Underneath that surface, however, lie some very powerful, and perhaps more complicated, ideas: IOIATextFINAL.indd 7 12/14/09 3:39:34 PM