Principles and Standards articulates the Council's belief that "mathematics can and must be learned by all students" (p. 13). The Council has not shrunk at all from its Every Child statement (see the opening page of this chapter) in which the Council is unequivocal about "every child" meaning with "no exception." This does not mean that every child will learn the same way or at the same rate or achieve the same level of accomplishment. It means that every child can learn real mathematics.
This chapter addresses the spectrum of issues that result from this belief that every child can and must learn mathematics. While methods of accommodation and support are recommended based on available research, the overriding message is that the same principles of teaching through problem solving apply. There are no methods of teaching mathematics for special children that differ fundamentally from the ways we teach all children.
My belief in this last statement has kept me from inserting sections on special needs issues throughout the book. At the same time, I believe that it is important for students to read this chapter before they become involved with specific content chapters. Without this perspective, the question, "Yes, but what about my special children?" will constantly be on their minds and undermine their belief in the ideas found in the book.
The Classroom Teacher and Special Children
The intended audience for this chapter is primarily the regular classroom teacher who increasingly finds herself or himself with either an inclusion classroom or more than a few mainstreamed children. At the same time, many of my students are in special education programs rather than in regular education. They want to know, "What do you do differently in the special classroom?" or "Can you do these things with special education children?" Obviously there must be accommodations either within the regular classroom or in the self-contained room. But in this chapter, I make the strong point that the general, constructivist principles of this book apply to teaching mathematics to all children. Rather than special needs, the focus of this chapter has changed subtly to one of equitable instruction. But while there are no fundamentally different ways to teach special children, equitable instruction does not mean the same instruction for all. Recall the Thomas Jefferson quote found in Chapter 5 (p. 66), "There is nothing so unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." In this context, distinctions between accommodations, modifications, and scaffolding continue to be important.
Specific Types of Special Needs
The overarching concern, then, is for teachers to learn how to keep standards high for the increasingly broad diverse classrooms they will most certainly face. Topics covered include children with specific learning disabilities, children with intellectual or mental disabilities, culturally and linguistically diverse students, issues of gender, and the mathematically promising. The phrase "culturally and linguistically diverse" or CLD is new in this edition. It includes culturally relevant instruction, ethnomathematics, all with a special emphasis on teaching English language learners. Each of these topics is up to date and includes useful guidelines for teachers. In preparing this chapter I was fortunate to have the input of Jennifer Bay-Williams and Karen Karp who provided special expertise on CLD students.