History of Special Education

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This paper will discuss the history of special education including a timeline of the significant events that happens in the history of special education. It would further discuss the laws associated with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Furthermore, this paper will address the current and future challenges the laws have on special education.

All children are created differently with different talents and abilities. Some are tall, others are short. Some are big, others are small. Not only are their physical attributes different, but children also adapt to different teaching styles. However, the differences among most students are reasonably minute and it allows for those children to be taught in a general education program. On the other hand, exceptional students differ from the norm and require special individualized attention called special education. Special education pertains to the teaching of students with unique requirements in a way that tackles each student’s individual needs and differences. Although, special education is necessity for disabled children, there have been huge obstacles in the history of special education.

For nearly 200 years following the United States being established in 1776, nothing was done to precede the privileges of its exceptional students. Actually, more than 4.5 million students were deprived of a sufficient education. Overall, children with disabilities were denied the right to attend public schools. The children that had mild to moderate disabilities were more likely to dropping out because there was no special individualized teaching that would meet the disabled student’s needs and differences. Therefore, that left parents with disabled children only had two options: to keep their children at home with them or to have them institutionalized. These children were described as incorrigible, backward, steamer children, and truant. By the 1920s some cities, not many, created special classed for students deemed unsuitable for regular classes with “normal” students.

The history of special education really blasted off after World War II when many parent advocacy groups formed to help pave the right for disabled children to receive a quality education. The first group to surface was the American Association on Mental Deficiency; their first convention was held in 1947. Next, many other advocacy groups were formed after the Civil Rights Movement and the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling which unmitigated equal defense under the law to minorities, lined the approach for related gains for those with disabilities. Several of the parent associations that were created due to civil rights movement were the Muscular Dystrophy Association, John F. Kennedy’s Panel on Mental Retardation and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

In 1965, congress created a Bureau of Education for the Handicapped that is currently identified as the Office of Special Education Programs. It is obvious that change takes time however, creating this bureau meant that a change was about to place. The Bureau of Education for the Handicapped main focus in 1965 was to get schooling for children with disabilities mandated by federal and state law.

In 1972, two Supreme Court decisions were made whish finalized the right for children with disabilities to have equal rights to a quality education as their nondisabled peers. The two important Supreme Court cases were PARC vs. Pennsylvania and Mills vs. DC Department of Education. During this time, there were no existing federal law that mandates this position; some students began going to school as a result to this judge ruling.

In 1973, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section 504 was passed into statute. This nationwide law confined qualified students from discrimination based upon their disability. This law was passed with minute elaboration. The majority of teachers and principals were not alerted that this also pertained to public...
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