General and Special Education Are (and Should Be) Different
The relationship between general and special education has been controversial since the beginning of universal schooling. From the start, general and special education evolved from different premises, with different emphases in teacher preparation and different research bases to ground their educational practices. Special education is reserved for a few eligible students. General education has only recently embraced the need to ground teaching and learning in public schools in educational research findings. Special education practice has a long history of being research-based. General education teachers are particularly well prepared to teach content or curricula to diverse large groups of students. Special education teachers are particularly well prepared to apply pedagogical skills and instructional strategies to teaching individual or small groups of exceptional students with specific learning and emotional needs. Local school boards or the state dictate the curriculum for general education. The individualized education program team dictates the curriculum for a student with a disability eligible for a special education.