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History of Special Education
Transcript of History of Special Education
June 9, 2014
During the 1980s, two more significant court cases presented themselves. The outcome of these cases once again brought changes to special education laws.
Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley
(1982) - This was the first special education case heard by the Supreme Court. Although the Rowley family lost the case in the Supreme Court, the case "set the standard for what is a Free Appropriate Public Education". (Special Education Advisor, 2010) The courts ruling ensured students with disabilities had access to public schools that offer a basic floor of opportunity.
Irving Independent School District v. Tatro
(1984) - "This landmark case defined the scope of related services and created the medical exception rule". (Special Education Advisor, 2010) The school districts are required to provide all supporting services unless only a doctor can provide the service. In this specific case the school nurse was able to provide the supporting service, a doctor was not needed.
Special education history in the United States
. Retrieved from
Education Week (2011).
No child left behind
. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/no-child-left-behind/
govtrack.us (n. d.).
. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/s2781#overview
National Center for Learning Disabilities (2014).
What is FAPE, and what can it mean to my child?
Special Education Advisor (2010).
Brief history of special education court cases
. Retrieved from
Forest Grove School District v. T. A
. Retrieved from
U. S. Department of Education (2007).
Twenty-five years of progress in educating children with disabilities through IDEA
. Retrieved from
University of Michigan (n. d.)
Special Education Legislation: A Synopsis of Federal and State Policies
. Retrieved from
Upper Grand District (n. d.)
. [Disabilities word collage.] Retrieved from http://www.ugdsb.on.ca/odss/article.aspx?id=10435
Yell, M. L. (2010). Least restrictive environment, mainstreaming and inclusion. Retrieved from
Foster Grove School District v. T. A. (2009)
On June 22, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that "when a public school fails to provide a [free appropriate public education] FAPE and a child's parents place the child in an appropriate private school without the school district's consent, a court may require the district to reimburse the parents for the cost of the private education". (Supremecourt.gov, 2009)
During the 1970s several landmark court decisions were made "giving states the responsibility to provide special education resources and schooling to students in need". (allEducationSchools, 2014)
ennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth
Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia
The outcome of both of these cases had a tremendous impact on special education. In both cases "the judges struck down local laws that excluded children with disabilities from schools". (Special Education Advisor, 2010) These cases established that children with disabilities have the right to a public education.
1950s and 1960s
During the 1950s and 1960s laws were passed to "provide training for teachers who worked ith deaf, hard-of-hearing or intellectually disabled (historically called 'mentally retarded')'. (allEducationSchools, 2014)
Captioned films Act (1958 and 1961) - Provided support in the production and distribution of accessible films.
Training of Professional Personnel Act (1959) - Provided training for professionals that educated children with mental retardation.
Teachers of the Deaf Act (1961) - Provided training to instructional personnel working with students who were deaf or hard-of-hearing. The act eventually expanded to include training across all disability areas.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act and States Schools Act (1965) - Provided grant assistance to states to help educate students with disabilities.
Handicapped Children's Early Education Assistance Act (1968) - "authorized support for, respectively, exemplary early childhood programs and increased Head Start enrollment for young children with disabilities". (U. S. Department of Education, 2007)
In 1997 the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) underwent major revisions. At this point the prior act became known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The new act put emphasis on the use of Individualized Education Plans (IEP) for all special education students. IDEA also initiated the use of Individualized Transition Plans (ITP) which were meant to help prepare students for success in their adult lives.
On October 5, 2010 President Obama signed a bill into affect known as Rosa's Law. This law is meant "to change references in Federal law to mental retardation to references to an intellectual disability, and to change references to a mentally retarded individual to references to an individual with an intellectual disability". (govtrack.us, n. d.)
This change in terminology may seem insignificant but the law was created to cultivate a healthy atmosphere for learning in our country's schools. The hope is that the change in terminology will promote more inclusion in the classroom.
2001 - No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)
Signed into law by President George Bush in 2002 as a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
"At the core of the No Child Left Behind Act were a number of measures designed to drive broad gains in student achievement and to hold states and schools more accountable for student progress". (Education Week, 2011)
NCLB focuses on:
Increasing the academic achievement of all public school students
Improving the performance of low-performing schools
Requiring schools to use scientifically based instructional practices
NCLB accomplishes this by:
Requiring states to measure the progress of students and groups of students, including students with disabilities, every year
Reporting the results of these measures to parents
Requiring states to set proficiency standards that schools must attain within a set period
Changes in Society's View
Society's view of special education is slowly changing. In the past students with disabilities were seen as outcasts. Society felt that these students should be locked away from the general education students ("normal students"). The recent change of terminology (Rosa's Law -2010) has also helped change society's view of special education. When people hear the word "mentally retarded" they view the person differently. Changing the terminology allowed people to view students with disabilities in a different way. They now saw the student as a person with a disability not a disease.
Today, society is backing the special education movement more and more. People are fighting for equal rights for all students, with or without disabilities. The road ahead for special education is long but with society's support more ground is covered each day toward equal education for students with disabilities. "Because of Federal leadership, the people of the United States better appreciate the fact that each citizen, including individuals with disabilities, has a right to participate and contribute meaningfully to society. With continued Federal-state-local partnerships, the nation will similarly demonstrate that improving educational results for children with disabilities and their families is critical to empowering all citizens to maximize their employment, self-sufficiency, and independence in every state and locality across the country". (U. S. Department of Education, 2007)
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
"Least restrictive environment refers to the IDEA’s mandate that students with disabilities should be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with peers without disabilities". (Yell, 2010) The LRE ensures that children are not unnecessarily removed from the regular classroom or isolated from other non-disabled children of their age. The students IPE team is in charge of determining what the least restrictive environment would be based on the students needs and accommodations available.
2004 - IDEA Revision
Timeline - Significant Events in Special Education
1975 - Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA)
Law was signed into effect in 1975 by President Gerald Ford
"This law was created in an effort to provide an appropriate education for the millions of children with disabilities that were not receiving a proper education". (University of Michigan, n. d.)
States receiving federal funding for special education must comply with six factors:
1. Zero Reject and a Free and Appropriate Public Education meant that EVERY child with special needs is entitled to receive a free and appropriate public school education.
2. Nondiscriminatory Identification and Evaluation was very important at this time because many students with disabilities were not being identified as children with special needs.
3. Individualized Education Program is designed to provide each student with a disability a specific and individual meaningful educational program.
4. The Least Restrictive Environment was the setting in which students with disabilities could benefit the most from.
5. Due Process gives people the right to challenge disability programs in hearings.
6. Parental Participation requires parents or guardians to be actively involved in their child’s education. (University of Michigan, n. d.)
The last revision of IDEA was signed into law by President Bush in 2004.
IDEA 2004 contains most of its original content but several specific requirements were added.
1. Provisions for highly qualified special education teachers
2. Required Assistance for children with disabilities, including services, and procedural safeguards.
3. Required Assistance for infants and toddlers with disabilities
4. National activities to improve special education. This includes grants, technical assistance, educators’ preparation and proper dissemination of information. (University of Michigan, n. d.)
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
"FAPE mandates that school districts provide access to general education and specialized educational services". (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2014)
FAPE also requires:
that support is given to children with disabilities free of charge
"access to general education services for children with disabilities by encouraging that support and related services be provided to the children in their general education setting as much as possible". (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2014)