Revamping Special Education

By Horn, Wade F.; Tynan, Douglas | The Public Interest, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

Revamping Special Education


Horn, Wade F., Tynan, Douglas, The Public Interest


PRIOR to the 1950s, the federal government was not routinely involved in the education of children with special needs. A few federal laws had been passed to provide direct educational benefits to persons with disabilities, mostly in the form of grants to states for residential asylums for the "deaf and dumb, and to promote education of the blind." These laws, however, were in the tradition of providing residential arrangements for persons with serious disabilities, services that had existed since colonial times.

Absent federal law, how-and even whether-children with disabilities were to be educated within the public schools was left to the discretion of the states and their local school districts. Although some public schools undoubtedly provided exceptional services to children with disabilities, others did not. Indeed, as recently as 1973, perhaps as many as one million students were denied enrollment in public schools solely on the basis of their disability.

This state of affairs changed dramatically in 1975 with the passage of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142). Renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, this landmark legislation mandated that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Critical components of the law include requirements for an initial evaluation to determine eligibility for services and accommodations, individual education planning, the provision of individualized services, and procedural safeguards to ensure the active involvement of a child's parents.

The good news is that IDEA has been largely successful in opening up educational opportunities for children with disabilities. The bad news is that IDEA, as too frequently happens with public-policy initiatives, has had some unintended negative consequences as well.

The growth of special education

In 1999-2000, 6.1 million children ages 3 to 21 years were found eligible for special-education services and accommodations, up from 3.7 million in 1976-77--an increase of 65 percent. The growing number of children in special education is not solely a function of an increase in the overall student population but also of a growth in the proportion of students claiming to be in need of special education. Specifically, 12.8 percent of the resident student population received special-education services and accommodations in 1997-98, compared to 8.3 percent of the resident student population in 1976-77.

There are several reasons why both the number and percentage of children identified as qualifying for special education under IDEA have grown so rapidly in recent decades. First, since passage of PL 94-142, both Congress and the Department of Education have responded to pressure from advocacy groups by broadening the definition of students eligible for special education. For example, children who are three to five years old are now eligible for services under the IDEA, as are children with autism and traumatic brain injuries.

Even more significantly, in 1991 the Department of Education issued a "policy clarification" indicating that children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be eligible for special-education services and accommodations under the "other health impaired" category of IDEA. On March 12, 1999, the department codified this policy clarification into law when it published regulations that, among other things, revised the definition of the "other health impaired" disability category by adding both ADD and ADHD as qualifying conditions. Given the extraordinary increase in the number of children diagnosed in recent years as having ADD or ADHD, the inclusion of these two diagnoses under "other health impaired" virtually assures continued growth in the number of students served through special education.

Second, the number of children identified under the category "specific learning disability," or SLD, has increased enormously.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Revamping Special Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.