Karen Webber, director of OSI’s Education and Youth Development program, recently returned from Budapest, where she attended a week-long course at Central European University on inclusion of marginalized student populations. Representatives from more than 20 countries, including Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Turkey, Georgia, Mongolia, South Africa, Kenya, India, Nepal, and Spain, participated in the course.
Participants discussed the idea of inclusion, often narrowly defined in education circles as pertaining to students with disabilities, when in fact it covers all marginalized children, including those from poor, immigrant, and rural families and children of color in the US and Europe.
A clear distinction was made between inclusion and integration. While integration means that all students attend the same schools, inclusion includes freedom from discrimination, a focus on the best interests of each child, optimal opportunities for student development, and recognition of each student’s voice.
Restorative practices was discussed as a method for moving from integration to inclusion. OSI-Baltimore has been working with CEO Sonja Santelises to make Baltimore City Public Schools a “restorative district” over the next five years.