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Twenty years ago, Nicholas Hobbs, in The Futures of Children, advocated an interdisciplinary team-based approach to educate handicapped, disadvantaged, and delinquent children and youth (Hobbs, 1975). Hobbs emphasizes the school as a social system and the need for professional collaboration in educating children with special needs. Although the team-based approach was originally proposed as a promising model specifically for educating special needs students, there is a growing recognition that the education of all youth [emphasis added] is the shared responsibility of classroom teachers, special educators, administrators, related professionals, and parents (Welch et al., 1992, p. 1).
Several factors make this shift to an interdisciplinary team-based approach appropriate for all students: the perception that schools are not well serving the increased numbers of at-risk students; the increased emphasis on site-based decision-making and parental involvement in education; and the recognition that schools are social systems set within the context of the larger community, offering a range of social services that if better integrated, could better meet the needs of students and their families (Welch et al., 1992).