Canadian Schools in Transition: Moving From Dual Education Systems to Inclusive Schools

Judy Lupart, Charles Webber


This paper provides a synthesis of educational reforms in Canadian schools over the past century to present times. The unique emphasis is to document the broad movements of change in both special and regular education. We begin our analysis with a detailed discussion on the many meanings of school restructuring and highlight the ongoing nature of school reform. Following a selective chronology of general and special education reform, we attempt to capture what appear to be the key features of school reform and progressive inclusion. The numerous obstacles to school reform are outlined and the evolving roles of those most centrally connected with the school culture—teachers, students, and parents—are reviewed. Several conditions for successful change are presented and the adoption of a balance of interests, policies, principles, and practices is recommended along with a transformation from dual systems to a unified system of education for all students. Regular and special educators are the professionals who must make school transformation reflect excellence and equity in our Canadian schools, and all available resources and support need to be deployed to this end.

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