The Regular Education Initiative (REI), first formally introduced in 1986 by former Assistant Secretary of Education, Madeleine C. Will, called for general educators to become more responsible for the education of students who have special needs in school. Mainstreaming, the practice of placing students with disabilities into regular education classrooms, has been accepted for some time; nevertheless, however, Will lent official sanction to the notion that regular education should take over even more of the functions traditionally thought the province of special education. In essence, she questioned the legitimacy of special education as a system of education distinct from general education.
The REI, as articulated by Will, was vague with regard to how much regular education should assume responsibility for the education of students with disabilities. In fact, that vagueness has contributed to the current debate in the 1990s over the roles of special versus regular education in educational programming for students with disabilities. Today, views on the inclusion of students with disabilities range from full inclusion--the belief that all students with disabilities should be educated solely in the regular classroom--to the belief in the maintenance of a full range of service delivery options (the continuum of services option), including residential institutions, special schools, special classes, resource rooms, and regular classes.
The differences between mainstreaming