History of Special Education

  • First Law Passed

    First Law Passed
    On July 16, 1798 President John Adams passed a bill authorizing the deduction of 20 cents per month from the wages of seamen for the purpose of funding medical care for sick and disabled seamen, while simultaneously building additional hospitals for treatment.
  • First Special Education Class

    First Special Education Class
    As more students with disabilities were labeled “feebleminded” or “backward”, teachers called for special classes and the opportunity to educate them. A school was opened in 1896 in Rhode Island and was the first public special education class. In 1923 almost 34,000 students in the US were in special education classes.
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    While many teachers believed in the benefits of special education, professionals such as Dr. Goddard proclaimed that mental retardation was hereditary, a social problem, and could not be improved by education. In this atmosphere, families who had a child labeled "feebleminded" were stigmatized as morally bad or genetically flawed. The message given to families was to institutionalize their children or keep them out of sight.
  • Benjit Nerje introduces Normalization

    Benjit Nerje introduces Normalization
    In the 1960s Dr. Bengt Nirje developed “normalization” which reflects the regular and everyday routine of life. It means that choices, wishes, and desired of the mentally ill are considered and respected. It is useful with all ages and adaptable to social changes and individual development. link text
  • Section 504 Rehabilitation Act

    Section 504 Rehabilitation Act
    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was signed into law as the first civil rights protection law. What section 504 says is “no otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall solely on the basis of his handicap, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." link text
  • Education for All Handicapped Children

    Education for All Handicapped Children
    This act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education for children with physical and mental disabilities. Public schools were required to evaluate children with disabilities and create an educational plan with parent input that would emulate as closely as possible the educational experience of non-disabled students.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

    Americans with Disabilities Act
    The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Here is a video of the day ADA was signed into law by President Bush. linktext
  • IDEA

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 requires every state to have in effect policies and procedures to ensure a FAPE for all students with disabilities. School districts have obligations to parentally placed private school students with disabilities under Part B of the IDEA. IDEA Part B can provide benefits to students with disabilities who are placed by their parents in private schools. At the same time, it does not impose requirements on private school.
  • No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

    No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
    Signed by President George W. Bush, the major focus of NCLB is to close student achievement gaps by providing all children with a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. The U.S. Department of Education emphasizes four pillars within the bill: accountability, flexibility, research based instruction, and parent options. The act allows for more direct instruction and parent involvement.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

    Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
    ESSA provides support to high schools where one-third or more of students do not graduate. It also provides support to schools with groups of traditionally underserved students who consistently demonstrate low performance. The law requires data on student achievement and graduation rates to be reported as well as action in response to that data. However, unlike NCLB, states, districts, and schools will determine what support and interventions are implemented.