As we begin this presentation, we will start with the historical events and timeline of the Evolution of Special Education. Special Education is a relatively new concept and has been through tremendous growth and change over the past 30 to 40 years. It is important to see where things originated in order to appreciate where they are now and to continue to make strides toward further improvement.
For hundreds of years, individuals living with developmental disabilities were practically shunned from society. It was not until the 1800’s when an advocate stood up for those living with special needs and realized that these individuals needed to be taught differently. Through advocating, the federal government did mandate that we educate the deaf and dumb but there was not a lot of major growth seen in this area.
Skipping ahead to the 1950’s: The Soviet union had just declared that they would be launching Sputnik. This announcement led to a panic in the United States government. President Eisenhower signed the National Defense Education Act. This act was to allow for funding, grants and education in the science and math programs of our public schools. This was in an attempt to better educate students in these areas as to not be threatened by the advancement of the Soviet Union. Soon thereafter, President Eisenhower signed an act allowing for colleges and universities to be prepared and adequately trained on the educating of students with special needs. This was a small act, but a strong step toward growth.
In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed. This was the federal government’s effort to financially (via education grant programs) assist elementary and secondary schools, including those classified as Title 1. Within one year, ESEA grew to include state funded schools for children with special needs. These state schools and organizations would be considered Title 1 and would be eligible to receive grant programs.
Between the early 1960’s through the early 1970’s history shows that state law and educators seemed to be “all over the map.” Even though a few years prior, laws had been passed allowing for funding to be granted in order to assist with the education of special needs students, many of these students were not being educated in public schools. Also, children were being subjected to classrooms that were not conducive to their needs: physically disabled children were being treated as those they had cognitive/developmental disabilities and placed in special education classes. It was through this frustration that parents and other advocates began pushing for the state law to mandate the free education of a student with special needs. By 1973, 45 states had agreed and passed a mandating law to offer special education classes in the public schools.
Even with 45 states on board with the mandating law to educate students with special needs, many students were being very poorly educated and some were not being educated at all. Again, parents, advocates and others passionate about being a voice for students with special needs, approached congress about their concerns.
The government stated that no student would be discriminated against based on disability. This is very similar to the Brown vs. The Board of Education stating that students will not be discriminated against based on the color of their skin. However, there were a few issues that did not sit well with parents and educators. PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia (1971) argued against a law that required a child to be at the “mental age of a 5 year old in order to begin school.” PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia overturned that law and it became required for the state to offer free public education for all developmentally disabled children until the age of 21. These students are also to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), meaning that the students will be educated where they are best suited; the students will be educated where they have the ability to be successful, whether it be in a special education classroom setting or in a general education classroom.
In 1972, fairly soon after PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia, Mills vs. Board of Education came underway. Seven students ranging from ages 8 through 16 with varying disabilities were suing the District of Columbia Public schools. During the 1971-1972 school year, these seven students had been turned away from enrollment in class and some were even suspended/expelled from school. One of the main reasons for turning these students away was the lack of funds in the school budget. Many students with special needs require differing equipment and material in order to be successful learners. A large advancement was made at this time when the United States District Courts ruled that public schools were prohibited from turning students away with disabilities. All students, even those with developmental disabilities, had a legal right to free public education. Obviously between PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia and Mills vs. Board of Education, many states were effected. By 1973, 30 other states had followed suite!
In 1974, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was passed. This act is intended for parents and guardians to to have rights and access to their son or daughter’s school records. Especially for students with special needs, it is important for parents to be able to request this information in order to see how their developmentally disabled child is succeeding in the classroom. It is the parent’s right to request this information at anytime but it must always be in writing with a signature to ensure confidentiality. If a parent believes that a grade is incorrect, they have a right to petition a new grade to be issued. Every year, it is required for the parents and guardians be notified of the FERPA rights.
In 1975 the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was signed and passed. This requires students to have access to Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) until the age of 21 and to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). In order to be successful, IEPs are individualized for each student’s learning experience and parents have the opportunity be heavily involved in the planning of the IEPs.
A reauthorization/re-evaluation was conducted in 1986 and some updates were made. As of 1986, preschool special needs students became eligible to receive mandated services and the promotion of early intervention services began for infants. Early intervention is key for many conditions. In 1990, another reauthorization was conducted and the name was changed to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1990, IDEA began to recognize those with Autism and Traumatic Brain Injuries as having disabilities and these individuals gained access to IDEA and services included therein. After 1990, parents had the right to sue states that were not in compliance with IDEA laws and regulations.
IDEA was again reauthorized in 1997 and it was during this evaluation where several changes were made to the process of IEPs and performance goals for students. Students that had been suspended or expelled were now required to have services within their IEP conducive to their educational or behavioral needs. Updates continued to be made about transition services offered for students and as of 1997, the age of eligibility for transition services was moved to 14. By 2004 many more changes had been made. Many of the changes involve guidelines for IEP structure, evaluation and intervention. Frequent updates is positive as growth happens and new research is conducted. However, IDEA decided that reauthorization would take place at least every 3 years but not more than once a year.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed in 2002 by President George Bush. NCLB is the latest update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. NCLB encompasses students and teachers. The idea behind NCLB is accountability and obviously, in the leaving of no child (academically) behind their classmates. Through the hiring of highly qualified teachers, NCLB expects for Academic Proficiency to be met by all students in 2014, this includes students in the special education classrooms. Standardized tests are administered in each public school and the results of these tests are available for the community. The concept behind NCLB is highly debatable amongst educators and administrators. The testing of students, including those with special needs, and then making academic decisions, budget adjustments, grant donations, firing of staff members and more based on those scores, is not necessarily the most popular concept.
Throughout the history of special education, one concept remains a steady thread throughout and that is: advocacy. From the beginning of the special needs historical timeline, it is through the advocacy of parents, teachers and other passionate people, where strides were made. Students living with special needs depend on those that have a voice, to speak upon their behalf. It is because of these advocates that Free and Appropriate Public Education, is in place. It is due to the advocacy of parents that positive results came out of PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia and Mills vs. Board of Education. Not every law passed or act in place is perfected. Educators see a lot of holes and debate within NCLB, however if teachers take pride in their calling and continue to make choices that will be beneficial for each student, NCLB has the potential to be helpful, hopeful and fruitful.
Professional Development Seminar:Special Education Through the Years Courtney Johnson SPE 529
History & Timeline in the Evolution of Special Education…
History of Special Education• Special Education is still a relatively “new” concept.• In the 1800’s the federal government requested that we educate the “deaf and dumb” but we see nothing much came of this at the time.
1950’s: National Defense Education Act• 1950’s: Soviet Union announced the launch of Sputnik• President D. Eisenhower signed National Defense Education Act: Grants for science and math programs in public schools.• Soon after President Eisenhower signed an act to for universities to be able to adequately educate teachers about those with special needs
1965: Elementary & Secondary Education Act• Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) 1965: The first federal effort to assist (financially and through grant programs) public (including Title 1) elementary & secondary schools.• By the second year of this act, it became specified that children in state schools for the disabled could be classified as “Title 1” and receive some of the financial grant supports.
1960’s-1970’s• Many students with cognitive impairments were not educated and those with physical disabilities were treated as though they had developmental disabilities.• Finally, PARENTS became involved and pushed for state “MANDATORY” laws— requiring states to educate, fund and provide special education!• 1973: 45 states had made the decision, by law, to offer special education classes
However….• 45 states had passed a law mandating special education be taught in the public schools, many students were not being educated…or they were being poorly educated.• PARENTS, ADVOCATES and others PASSIONATE about serving the special need population, approached Congress with their concerns.
1971: PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia• Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Children vs. Commonwealth of Virginia: PARC argued against the law stating that a child must be at a mental age of 5 yrs. old in order to begin school.• Through PARC vs. Commonwealth of Virginia the state will now provide FREE public education to ALL mentally disabled children up to age 21. In the LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT.
1972: Mills vs. Board of Education• 7 Children (ages 8-16) with varying disabilities vs. District of Columbia Public Schools• Students turned away or even suspended from the 1971-1972 school year• Main reason they were turned away from enrollment was budget cuts• United States District Courts ruled that public schools were prohibited from turning students away with disabilities
1974: Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act• Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)• Parent/Guardian has right to access any and all school records• Parent/Guardian can request school records to be changed if believed to be incorrect• Written permission is required- always required• Every year parent/guardian must be given the FERPA rights.
1975: Education for All Handicapped Children Act• Education for All Handicapped Children (presently known as IDEA) was passed in 1975.• Free and Appropriate Public Education• Evaluation of students needing Special Education• LRE• IEPs• Education until age 21 (Cont. next slide)
Cont.• 1986: Re-evaluation• Preschool Education & Early Intervention• 1990: Re-evaluation• IDEA• Autism & Traumatic Brain Injuries• Parent’s rights for states that are not participating (cont. next slide)
Cont.• 1997: Re-evaluation• IEPs for students that have been suspended/expelled• Mediation Services• Transition Services- age 14• Establish performance goals for SpEd students• 2004: Re-Evaluation• Updates in IEP guidelines & eligibility guidelines
2002: No Child Left Behind• Teachers & States become more accountable• Inclusion of students with disabilities• Academic requirements are also applicable to students with special needs• Academic Proficiency is to be met by 2014— including special education students• Community will have access to performance and scores of schools in area• Educators must be “highly qualified”
References• Martin E. (1996). The Legislative and Litigation History of Special Education. The Future of Children Special Education for Students with Disabilities. 6 (1), 25-32.• Cortiella, Candace No Child Left Behind and Students With Disabilities: Opportunities and Obstacles. (n.d) retrieved 7/23/12, from Great Schools Web Site: www.greatschools.org• Individuals with Disabilities Act 2004. (2007). retrieved 7/22/12, from Council for Exceptional Children Web Site: www.cec.sped.org• Week 1 & Week 2 Lecture Notes from SPE 529