From Cruelty to Understanding: Trends in Special Education

Trends in Special Ed Source:

For thousands of years the disabled were abandoned, left to die.

Today: 96 % of children with disabilities are educated in regular public schools in the U.S. That’s 6.7 million Timeline: Ancient Times: 1552 BC: earliest reference to intellectual disability dates to the Egyptian Papyrus of Thebes. 800 BC: The ancient Greeks and Romans thought disabled children were born because the gods were angry. FACT: Disabled children were abandoned and left to die For hundreds of years….. NOT Politically correct but true: The words moron, imbecile, and idiot were once acceptable clinical terms in medicine and psychiatry for intellectually disabled people. • Moron: was a person with an IQ between 50 and 70. They could benefit from education and support themselves. • Imbecile: IQ between 35 and 49. These individuals could be taught basic social behavior and eventually learn to care for themselves. • Idiot: IQ of less than 35. Severely impaired and totally dependent on others for their survival. Colonial America: parents had few options other than to educate their children at home or pay for expensive private education. 1776: A founding father, with disability signs Declaration of Independence FACT: Stephen Hopkins, a Declaration signer with cerebral palsy, upon signing, said “my hands may tremble, my heart does not.” 1779 – Thomas Jefferson proposes a two-track educational system, with different tracks for “the laboring and the learned.” 1817 – The Connecticut Asylum at Hartford for the Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons opens. It is the first permanent school for the deaf in the U.S. FACT: 7: number of students in the first class. By end of the first year, 33 students. 1829 – The New England Asylum for the Blind, opens, the first school in the U.S. for children with visual disabilities. 6: Student enrollment in year one. 60: Enrollment by 1839. 1851 – The New York State Asylum for Idiots opens with 20 students. 1869 – Boston creates the first public day school for the deaf Before 1975: many disabled children were denied access to public school, • By 1969: More than 1 million children with disabilities still excluded from schools. • Hundreds of thousands housed in state institutions. 1975 – Landmark legislation. Children with disabilities have the right to attend public schools, and learn in regular classrooms with non-disabled children. Law known today as IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). 1990: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is enacted. 2001: No Child Left Behind. Law calls for all students, including students with disabilities, to be proficient in math and reading by 2014. The numbers: 1983: 1 of 5 children with disabilities were educated in a regular school. 2012: NOW, thanks to IDEA, 96 % of children with disabilities are educated in regular schools. 4: percentage of children in 2012 with disabilities enrolled in schools for students with disabilities. 4.1 million: number of children and youth, ages 3-21 receiving special ed services in 1980-81 6.7 million: number (same age) in 2004-05, OR 14 % of total public school enrollment 6.4 million: number (same ages) in 2010-11, OR 13 % of total public school enrollment 50: percentage of students with disabilities that spend at least 80% of their day in regular classrooms. 3X: College enrollment rates among students with disabilities have more than tripled in the last 20 years. 2X: Special education teaching force has more than doubled in the last 20 years. The Future of special ed: 2013-2014 and beyond • With budgets tighter, and fewer teachers, program reforms needed • Use of technologies, iPads, Apps to aid teachers • Maximizing the meaningful interaction between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers Modern Day Heroes and Villains Hero: Henry Winkler (the Fonz) Has dyslexia. Now children’s book author Hero: Eva Langoria (Desperate Housewives): Started Eva’s Heroes, which helps teens and young adults with special needs. Hero company: Skechers (the shoe company): fundraisers for special needs kids Hero: Jimmy Kimmel: fundraiser. Has an autistic relative. Hero: Sly Stallone: son has autism; a fundraiser Modern Day Villain: Sequestration (2013) • 5% reduction in federal funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) • Many schools will have fewer speech, occupational or physical therapists • Many schools will have fewer social workers and school psychologists • $579 million cut from IDEA Part B, which supports students age 3-21 with learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, autism or emotional disturbances. • 300,000 students receiving special education services affected • Federal share of funding states for special ed programs falls to 14.9%, the lowest federal contribution by percent dating to 2001. • More than 10,000 special ed teachers laid off in 2012, due to sequestration • $900 million (devoted toward students with special needs) could be excluded from future funding propositions: Arne Duncan, Sec. of the Dept. of Education. Question: Thousands of years after Plato, are we REALLY treating special ed kids any better than the Greeks and Romans would have? Sources:
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