Toward a Unified System of Education: Where Do We Go From Here?

Judy L. Lupart


This special issue provides a selective overview of topics associated with a predominant trend in Canadian and U.S. schools: moving from a dual system of education in which special education and regular education services are carried out separately, to an effective unified system of service delivery for all students (Stainback, Stainback, & Bunch, 1989). Even though much of the impetus for change has come from proponents in special education (Lipsky & Gartner, 1989; Porter & Richler, 1991; Villa, Thousand, Stainback, & Stainback, 1992), there is increasing evidence that general education reform and school improvement agendas are beginning to take hold (Barth, 1991; Smith & Scott, 1990). The challenge of creating school environments that promote excellence and equity is daunting but not impossible, and some of the preliminary efforts in this area are very promising. The focus of this special issue is on some of the significant work that is being carried out across the country to support this change. Although the range of topics is diverse, all papers are concerned with the complex problems associated with providing every student (particularly students with exceptional learning needs) an appropriate education that enables each to reach maximal potential.

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