Unconditional education (UE) is driven by the belief that public schools are responsible for all students. This may seem a foregone conclusion: national trends in education never seem weary of exclaiming that no child shall be left behind, that all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education or, more recently, that every student shall succeed. The concept of unconditional education is not new. However, public schools have yet to fully deliver on its promise, failing to build truly inclusive systems of care capable of serving students with the most exceptional needs. The UE model, as presented in this book, serves as an organizing framework for education leaders who are looking to reshape their schools in order to better meet the broad range of needs of their students, families, and staff. This book may appear to focus only on students with the most exceptional needs. That focus, however, is not limited. UE is founded on the belief that improving the educational experience of our most vulnerable children, in the end, benefits all children. Its aim is to create learning environments where students receive the support they need when they need it, not only after they have reached a certain, designated threshold of failure. UE seeks to build truly engaging and exhaustively positive environments where all students, their families, and the school’s staff feel safe and deeply connected to the community, laying the foundation necessary for academic success. This is a book about transformational change in schools. Such change, by its very definition, requires a fundamental shift in the way schools do business. To be even more clear: this is a book that seeks to disrupt the well-established ways in which schools operate, from the daily experiences of students, families, and staff to the organizing structures that influence them, such as schedules, discipline practices, working conditions, service delivery, and physical space. This is a book about how to create actual changes within actual schools.
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