THE LEGALIZATION AND FEDERALIZATION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION
Dixie Snow Huefner University of Utah
It has been 20 years since the passage of Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. The 20th anniversary is a good time to pause and evaluate the act and what its implementation over two decades has wrought. It is also a good time to ponder the future and what the next 20 years may bring.
At the time of the original passage of P.L. 94-142 in 1975, special education advocates had worked patiently for a decade to extend the federal role in the education of children with disabilities. Following the model of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, they sought federal grants-in- aid to underwrite more services for these students than states could provide on their own. They also successfully advocated for individual identification of each student with a disability, and funding to each state based on the number of children so identified. For the special education community, the victory was hard fought, the mood expansive, the time full of hope for state and federal cooperation to serve all children with disabilities, including the most severe, who typically had been excluded from public schools across the nation.
In the intervening years, P.L. 94-142, which is a permanently authorized funding statute, has been amended a number of times and is currently Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (hereinafter, IDEA or the Act).1 The Supreme Court has ruled seven times on different aspects of the____________________