History of Special Education

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Running head: History of Special Education

History of Special Education

Marie Cudia
Grand Canyon University: SPE526: Educating Learners with Diverse Needs April 2, 2012
History of Special Education

The history of Special Education just as any history; is a long battle that has been fought by many who cared in order to bring us to where we are today. Its Journey has and will be never ending; since society is forever evolving. We will be fighting for equal rights in education and in life for many years to come since the definition of Special Education is not a precise one. In this paper you will learn the basics of what injustices we have risen above, to the current state we are in, and even what possibilities the future may hold for the Special Education Teacher and the system you will come to either love or despise.

Written documentation of the treatment and education of people with Special needs dates back to the beginning of time; although most were killed before the 17th century and looked at as an abomination. It was not until the 17th Century that these children and adults were alive in institutions where people like Phillipe Pinel, “one of the founding fathers of modern psychiatry and distinguished teacher of internal medicine, began treatment of persons with mental illness using kindness, respect, and the expectation of appropriate behavior” (Curtis, 1993 as cited in GCU, (n.d.), para.10). Pinel set the stage for more courageous individuals to rise above the norm of society and treat people with Special needs as human beings; deserving of kindness and respects as others have been treated for years. Many more doctors, psychologists, and later teachers stood up to take the role as advocate for a person or group of people who were considered Special needs. It was not until the 1800’s when we as a society took notice to this lifetime of injustice that these people with Special needs had endured. In the 1820’s a teacher and later doctor; Samuel Gridley Howe taught a woman named Laura Bridgman, who was both deaf and blind, the alphabet in a Massachusetts school (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012). It was not until these remarkable acts that people started to believe that those with special needs were not worthless and were capable of being taught the life skills society requires of us. Society took notice but by no means were individuals with Special needs considered equal and deserving of the same education as those of the Caucasian race in the United States at this time. Those with Special needs were still segregated in institutions and schools for people with the same needs; just as people were segregated by the color of their skin.

It was not until 1954, and the help of the Supreme Court case Brown v. the Board of Education, Topeka, KS. That it became the responsibility of the United States Government and their Public Education System to teach every child even those with Special needs. This case made it so that NO CHILD could be discriminated against in the education system because of differences. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was enacted to mandate the educational system and provide guidelines for the type of education students should receive; but loop holes were found and people were left out. It was in 1972, that ALL children in the United States were mandated to have a free, appropriate education; and yes it was because of more court cases! This new law’s services were still legally provided in separate classrooms, but at least those classrooms were now mandated to follow the same educational goals as the General Education classrooms were providing their students; just at the level deemed appropriate by the teacher (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012). After that in 1973, the government passed the Rehabilitation Act, which was the first Civil Rights Educational reform which declared Segregation as an injustice in any case of race, creed, or difference besides...
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