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BRIEF HISTORY OF SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW. A FAMILY BURDEN For much of the 20 th century the practice of educating disabled students was exceedingly rare.

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Presentation on theme: "BRIEF HISTORY OF SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW. A FAMILY BURDEN For much of the 20 th century the practice of educating disabled students was exceedingly rare."— Presentation transcript:


2 A FAMILY BURDEN For much of the 20 th century the practice of educating disabled students was exceedingly rare. Children who were blind, deaf and paralyzed or otherwise impaired were deemed “mentally defective” and were often considered a family burden best kept out of sight.


4 ALL CHILDREN SHOULD GO TO SCHOOL Compulsory attendance laws began to change that picture. Schools began to get flooded with students, with diverse needs. Ill-equipped teachers didn’t handle this well.


6 THE U.S. EXPERIENCES MANY CHANGES TO IT’S POPULATION SETTING THE STAGE FOR EUGENICS …… The U.S. was experiencing many changes in the population. Ex… large-scale immigration from S. and E. Europe, African-American migration North. Competition for jobs, and general friction along class and racial lines existed. The U.S. eugenics movement began.

7 EUGENICS Ideology that society can, and should, be improved through various forms of intervention, thus improving the human gene pool. Involved classifying individuals, and entire groups as “degenerate” or “unfit”. Examples of interventions included segregation, institutionalization, involuntary sterilization and in the most extreme form – mass extermination (think Nazi Germany). Now this view point is widely regarded as discrimination and a violation of human rights.


9 A THREAT TO SOCIETY Henry Goddard – prominent psychologist and eugenicist – helped spread the notion that those who were “feebleminded”, lived in poverty, etc…were a threat to society as a whole. He claimed that these traits were caused by simple heredity. However, he had no way to identify who the “feebleminded” individuals were. This changed with the creation of IQ tests.


11 POOR ALFRED BINET…. Binet had created protocols to assist teachers in identifying students who were not performing at grade level. Binet was not a eugenics advocate, however, he was too uncertain about what intelligence was, and believed a person could adapt and grow over time.


13 LEWIS TERMAN Lewis Terman - cognitive psychologist at Stanford until 1945 He agreed with Henry Goddard’s ideas. He modified Binet’s tests and proposed that I.Q. tests should be used to identify students who wouldn’t benefit from an education and help to job track. Goddard and Terman’s studies were troublesome. For example, the tests were in English and had blatant cultural bias and were given to Spanish- speakers and non-schooled African Americans, etc…

14 JUSTIFICATION FOR DISCRIMINATION Goddard pronounced that “children of these groups” should be segregated into separate classes. His biased studies gave others belief that there was scientific proof that justified discrimination, segregation and even eugenics. Schools hired Terman to help them train “testers” to weed out who would benefit from an education and who wouldn’t

15 S EGREGATION AND INSTITUTIONALIZATION Laws began to emerge that mandated establishing separate classes for “mentally retarded” – an UNDEFINED category that included most mental, emotional and learning disabilities. This move to segregate students led to the growth of institutions and special schools. Youth were shut out of regular schools and many institutions offered little, if any, instruction – and instead served as warehouses for children.


17 THE EUGENICS MOVEMENT BEGINS TO BREAK DOWN During the Depression, it became hard to argue that living in poverty was a genetic predisposition. Associations of eugenics with Nazi Germany caused the eugenics ideology to become less popular.

18 THE BEGINNING OF EQUAL RIGHTS The roots of the breakthrough for equal educational opportunities for students with special needs can be traced back to the 1950’s when the movement against racially segregated schools inspired disability rights advocates. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka – 1954 overturning Plessy vs. Ferguson – separate is NOT equal.



21 THE ACRONYMS YOU NEED TO KNOW 1975 – Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) – guarantees a “free, appropriate public education” (FAPE) in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE) for ALL students, regardless of disability. EAHCA later became known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - IDEA ), has been amended many times, most recently in 2004 (now called IDEIA ).

22 FAPE: F REE, A PPROPRIATE P UBLIC E DUCATION FAPE – “appropriate” = what is on Child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) – allows schools to consider unique needs and goals of child within the educational context.

23 LRE: L EAST R ESTRICTIVE E NVIRONMENT LRE – The presumption is that the general education classroom is the most appropriate place for a child to learn. LRE must consider: 1) Is child benefiting from placement academically? 2) Is child benefiting from placement socially? 3) What effect does the placement have on the gen ed teacher and classroom environment? 4) What is the cost of supplemental services needed?

24 IEP: I NDIVIDUALIZED E DUCATION P LAN There must be an IEP for each student receiving special education services. This must indicate the student’s present level of performance, goals, short term objectives and evaluation procedures and appropriate placement.

25 N O C HILD L EFT B EHIND AND S TATE S TANDARDS IDEIA aligns with NCLB (2001) because NCLB requires schools to ensure that each student is receiving whatever is needed in order to improve on state standards.

26 S ECTION 504 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects qualified individuals with disabilities. This basically allows for accommodations and modifications even if student does not qualify for special education under IDEIA. Under this law, individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.

27 504 CONT …. Major life activities include caring for one's self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning. Some examples of impairments which may substantially limit major life activities, are: AIDS Diabetes Crohn’s Disease Heart disease Mental illness. ADD/ADHD Visual/Hearing Impairments

28 REMOVING STUDENTS FROM THE GENERAL EDUCATION CLASSROOM If schools make no effort to modify/adapt the curriculum in the gen ed room before changing the location of the student, then the school isn’t doing their part. (Another acronym – RTI – will be discussed later in the course!) By law, services must be documented over an extended period of time to try and see a change. Placement changes MUST be made at the IEP (as well as any other changes to services student receives).

29 R IGHT TO DUE PROCESS HEARINGS Special needs students and their parents have the right to due process. Due process is a system of checks and balances to insure that the school’s and the school district’s decisions are fair and appropriate for the student.

30 INCLUSION Inclusion is giving students the opportunity to be a part of the regular school culture, educating them in the courses they would otherwise attend, with all of the supports and services as documented in the IEP. Inclusion requires thoughtful deliberation by the IEP team, with consideration of a full continuum of placement options and support services needed, based on the student's needs.

31 R EFERENCES Acerman, Paul et. al. Education Encyclopedia: History of Special Education, Allen, Garland E., Was Nazi Eugenics Created in the U.S.? Embo Reports, 2004 Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race Currell, Susan; Christina Cogdell (2006). Popular Eugenics: National Efficiency and American Mass Culture in The 1930s. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. pp. p203. Institute for Inclusion, Klonsky, Fred Rethinking Schools Online: The Forgotten History of Eugenics, Shultis, Angela, Special Needs Education; Just What Is Inclusion, Anyway? Stoskopf, Alan, Echoes of a Forgotten Past: Eugenics, Testing, and Education Reform. Stoskopf, Alan, The Forgotten History of Eugenics,

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