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The History of Special Education in Ontario

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Andrea Randell

on 17 July 2013

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Transcript of The History of Special Education in Ontario

Prior to the 1950s...
Students with disabilities were largely ignored.
SOMETIMES they were allowed to participate in education, however this was often without proper support and segregated from the mainstream population.
The Royal Commission on Education in Ontario (or Hope Reform) was Ontario's first acknowledgment of special education.
The report spoke of the need to expand special education programs to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities.
Educational reforms beginning to take place in Ontario schools (i.e. new program policies, credits, diploma requirements, 'open concept' classrooms).
By 1978, around $369 million was being spent on special education. At this time, there were nearly 11, 000 special education teachers and 120,000 students receiving some special education services.
However, roughly 15,000 were on waiting lists and another 15,000 had not yet been diagnosed.
1978: Two important announcements made by the Minister of Education that would set in motion MAJOR reforms in regards to special education. 1.) A directive to boards "requiring them to offer an Early Identification Program to ensure the learning needs of every child entering schools will be identified. It is essential that physical, mental, emotional or learning disabilities be identified early so that remedial programs can be provided promptly."- School boards had until 1981 to have that program fully operational. 2.) Memorandum instructing boards to provide education programs for students with learning disabilities.
Taking into account everything we now know about Ontario's special education history, how can we best support all of our learners in today's classrooms?
By creating a positive classroom and school-wide learning environment.
Establishing HIGH yet ATTAINABLE expectations.
Through inclusion.
Integration of students with special needs into the regular classroom whenever it best suits their needs.
By making curriculum accessible to all students- Universal Design for Learning.
Recognizing students' strengths and using those to address their NEEDS.
Differentiating content, process, and/or product to meet the needs of all learners.
Why is it important for special education teachers to know the history of special education??
Teachers need to be aware of how the education system has transformed since the 1980s to support the INDIVIDUAL needs of ALL learners. It is important for the same reasons that authentic and meaningful lessons are important for our students. If students don't understand the purpose or relevance of their learning, they are less likely to be engaged and fully understand the learning objectives. As with teachers, it is essential that we know WHY special education is so important TODAY. In order to do that, we must take a look into our history and see how we have evolved. If we understand the roots of special education, we have the foundation we need to properly support all students and adhere to our professional responsibilities.
Rewinding Time to get a closer look...
1962: The Ontario Human Rights Code is introduced.
1963: Ontario Associate for Children and Learning Disabilities (OACLD)- lobbied for better services and provided a place for parents to go to for support, assistance and advice.
1968: Hall-Dennis Report, "Living and Learning: The Report of the Provincial Committee on Aims and Objectives of Education in the Schools of Ontario"- "The right of every individual to have equal access to the learning experience best suited to his/her needs, and the responsibility of every school authority to provide a child-centred learning continuum that invited learning by individual discovery and inquiry."
A special branch of the Ministry of Education was created to promote the development of special services.
1969: School boards were mandated to accept responsibility for all but the most severe cases of mental retardation.
Short-comings: By the late 60s school boards offered mostly mediocre services that were not evenly dispersed between district.
1980: An Act to Amend the Education Act, Bill 82.
1982: The Human Rights Code- New legislation implemented that prohibits discrimination on the basis of 'handicap.'
1982: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms- 'Every individual is equal before and under the law, and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.'
1986: Minister's Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE) was established.
1989: Ontario Human Rights Code- published "Guidelines on Assessing Accommodation Requirements for Person's with Disabilities."
Bill 82
Ontario recognized that the publicly funded school system needed to be responsible to ensure learning for all students, even those with special needs.
Bill 82 made it mandatory for school boards to provide special education programs and services to exceptional students (or purchase through agreement with another publicly funded school board).
Important aspects of Bill 82: Early and ongoing identification and assessment, the establishment of the IPRC (Individual Placement and Review Committee), the involvement of parents/guardians to the process, the involvement of the parent's association in school boards SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee), the right of the parent to appeal the IPRC decision, extended programs to Roman Catholic school boards,
Significance: Prior to Bill 82, school boards COULD offer special education resources and programs, but they were under no obligation to do so.
No matter the different types of wrapping, children are our most precious gifts. (Michelle Francis, LE 2, Etivity #1)
Purpose: to provide advice to the Minister of Education on any matter related to the establishment and provision of special education program and services.
Included 20 voting and 4 non-voting members.
Membership consisted of representatives of each of the exceptionalities professions, trustees and educator groups, students/youth, aboriginal community member and Catholic and French communities all received representation.
1991: The Minister of Education announces that exceptional students are to be included into regular classrooms ( if favourable to parents/guardians).
1995: Report of the Royal Commission on Learning, 'For the Love of Learning'- Recommended integration of students with special needs into the regular classroom, with appropriate supports (and acceleration for gifted pupils).
Short-comings: Budget-cuts. 1993- $350 million was cut from elementary and secondary education. The effects were felt with regard to special education.
2000: Ontario Human Rights Code revised version of its 'Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate.'
2000: 'Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation'- once an IPRC identifies a student as 'exceptional,' the principal must ensure that an IEP is developed and maintained.
2002: 'High Cost Special Education Program'- covers the cost of special education services for First Nations students living on the reserve with 'moderate to profound needs.'
2004: Ontario Human Rights Commission published, 'Guidelines on Accessible Education- to support education providers and students with disabilities in their fulfillment of their duties and rights under the Code.
2005: 'Education for All: The Report Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students with Special Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6'- improving student achievement and ensuring accountability.
2005: 'Working Table on Special Education'- looks at how program policy, funding and accountability, might best be changed to support a system for special education that coincides with the governments overall goals for education.
2006: 'Special Education Transformation'- Reforms for better support (i.e. improved outcomes for students receiving special education).
2008: Approximately 290,000 of students receiving special education programs and/or services (two-thirds identified as exceptional).
2009- The Ministry implemented a recommended professional activity day dedicated to special education (focusing on things like improved outcome, increased system capacity, and ensured linkages from the IEP to the Ontario Curriculum and Provincial Report Card.
'School Trains 1920s-1960s
This is now...
An Example of how far we have come...
1957- The Case of Ruthie
It was not until she was about 8 years old that Ruthie began attending school. To begin with, her parents knew she was, in her father's words, "something behind other young ones." Then there was the long walk down the concession and across the side road to the one school room. She'd have to do it all alone and well, everybody knew Ruthie had this habit of wandering off.
Even at age eight, Ruthie's future as a student was uncertain at best.

"We don't have to take this child in if you don't want," the chairman of S.S. #12 school board had said to the brand new teacher in August. "It's going to be hard enough in your first year without having a child (with special needs) to look after. The regulations are clear. We don't have to take her. It's up to you."

But the teacher welcomes Ruthie and made her feel part of the tiny student body. Two girls in grade 8 readily agreed to take her outside to the toilet everyday just before recess. One of the older boys built her an extended desktop so she could more easily enjoy her favourite activity: colouring big murals on the back of discarded rolls of wallpaper. The younger children, a bit perplexed at first because Ruthie didn't speak, soon learned to ignore her strange noises. And every day after lunch, Ruthie crawled happily into the teacher's lap for the reading of the next sequence in 'The Afternoon Story.' By the end of the school year, Ruthie could recognize her own name in print; she understood and followed routines; could count up to ten blocks, and, most important in the teacher's view she no longer wandered at will.

The next year of her schooling might have shown even more development, but Ruthie got caught in a swirl of events that even her parent's didn't quite follow. S.S. #12 was closed in June, along with all the other one room schools in the township. Students were now being bused to a brand new central school. Ruthie's teacher got married that summer and moved to the other end of the province. At "Central," the school inspector told the staff in primary/junior that no one was obligated to take in Ruthie but if anyone volunteered, she would be admitted. There were no takers. Ruthie never went to school again.
Prior to 1980, students like Ruthie who had special needs were mainly ignored. She was considered to be a burden to the school board and new teacher. It was an additional responsibility that teachers didn't want to take on and so because of that, Ruthie's education ended at nine years of age.
Thankfully, we have been in the process over the last 33 years of revolutionizing our education system. There have been bumps in the road along the way, funding and appropriate allocation of resources being of high concern; however, if Ruthie had been a child of the 21st century no one would have been able to turn their back on her. She would have been protected under law and provided with equal opportunities to receive her education. New programs and policies continue to be put in place in order to further support the needs of all students.

Special Education Part 1, Etivities and lessons





The History of Special Education in Ontario
By: Andrea Randell
Full transcript