Many students with disabilities in the United States are receiving a sub-standard education because states are not complying with federal rules on special education as a result of discriminatory practices (BBC News Online). In many cases, children with disabilities are being taught in separate classroom, when they should not be segregated. In addition, schools are not always following regulations meant to protect students with disabilities from discrimination. Historically ethnic and linguistically diverse groups have been discriminated against in our society and especially our educational system. For example, “in the early 1950’s, racial segregation in public schools was the norm across American. Although all the schools in a given district were supposed to be equal, most blacks’ schools were far inferior to their white counter parts” (Cozzens, 1998). This was changed by Brown v. Board of Education where Congress concluded that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal (Cozzens, 1998). Just as Oliver Brown and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NACCP) challenged segregation in public schools, many parents of children with disabilities, advocates, and civil right leaders fought for a policy that would provide a free, public education to all students with disabilities. This is how the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) evolved and as Brown v. Board of Education it too is a giant step forward towards desegregation in public school and protection from acts of discrimination.
Not surprisingly, many definitions describing individuals with severe disabilities focus on deficits such as intellectual, orthopedic, sensory, behavioral and functional impairments; unfortunately, such definition tell us very little about them as people (McDonnell, Hardman, & Mc Donnell, 2003). Students being viewed specifically as the definition on paper; automatically stigmatizing them and resulting in them being treated and accepted differently than their non-disabled peers. With this being said IDEA plays a very important role in these students education. It gives both parents and students a voice and protects the students from being discriminated against simply because some people could not view them beyond the definition provided on paper.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) evolved in 1975 because of parents of students with disabilities, advocates, and civil rights leaders. Prior to 1975 there were on million persons with disabilities not educated because there was no access to a public school education. For teachers this was a big social experience and a whole lot was to be worked out. IDEA was revised in 1990, 1995, and 2004. The immediate purpose of the It IDEA has always been to provide a free, appropriate public education to all students with disabilities. It also provides a basis on which families and professionals may enter into partnerships with each other (Snell & Brown, 6th Ed.). IDEA recognizes that families play an important role in the student’s education and took that into consideration in the 2004 revision. The IDEA of 2004 was focused on constructing a policy that would ensure to provide an environment where students with disabilities could learn and achieve and not just have access to being present in a public school. IDEA of 2004 guarantee an education that is: free, appropriate (as defined through court), public includes related services (e.g. Speech therapy, interpreter, assistive technology), and takes place in the least restrictive environment with preference for general education classroom placement.
There are six major principles of IDEA which include: zero reject, nondiscriminatory evaluation procedures and standards, least restrictive environment with preference for general education, free appropriate public education, parent...
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