I am preparing for a keynote I will be doing in mid August for an educational achievement conference in Harrisburg, PA and have been going through my files and notes.
When we were writing our book, "Social Capital: The Key to Macro Change" (2014), Jeff Fromknecht and I looked closely at the emerging literature that is linking academic achievement, and social success to social capital and relationships developed in school. In fact, in our book and in some of our own research carried out by CLASS (2007/2008), we introduced the construct of "Social Academics" as a framework to advance social capital strategies in schools.
The evidence began to emerge in the mid-90's, however, when researchers reported that children with disabilities who were included in the general classroom did better academically and socially than similar students in segregated settings. In fact, in 1995, the National Center on Educational Restructuring and Inclusion (NCERI) reported on academic, behavioral, and social benefits for students with and without disabilities.
But it is the social outcomes that seem to be most beneficial to children. Inclusive education helps all children to have a social conscious, improved social cognition, improved self esteem and self concept and to strive for social justice. Clearly, a child's development - academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually - is enhanced by feeling a strong sense of belonging, caring, and a sense of community in schools.
If you are an educator, parent, or advocate, this should be a clarion call for promoting inclusive education for all children, and to promote clear opportunities for children to build social capital in school. It is as important as "reading, writing, and arithmetic."