Source: Five Towns Jewish Times
Boston is one of the few communities to have achieved across-the-board integrated education within existing schools for the overwhelming majority of Jewish children with special needs in its area. In fact, more than 500 special-needs children will be learning inside no less than 12 of Boston’s Jewish schools this year.
The educational initiative is a partnership of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Greater Boston and the Ruderman Family Foundation, for whom this has been the primary initiative.
The breakthrough achievements of this one-of-a-kind program, begun in Boston five years ago, has been well-documented:
- Twelve schools received direct grants for qualified personnel, professional development, and direct student services. Each of these participating day schools now has a basic infrastructure for ensuring that students with special learning needs are served with better quality and more in-school coordination than ever before.
- Each participating school has a designated coordinator for special education, at least one special educator teaching identified students, a school mission that includes the admission of students with special needs, improved space for special-education services, greater capacity to support students with special needs and/or their teachers, more inclusion classrooms, and programs for students whose needs cannot be met in the regular classroom.
- A broader range of options is now available for serving students with special needs, including substantially separate classes for small numbers of students at the elementary and middle school levels; co-taught classes that rely on support from Gateways therapists; and reduced course loads at the middle and high school levels that were not considered acceptable in the past.
The program leaders hope that this successful "inclusion model" of Jewish education will soon be adopted by many communities across North America.