Ligation and Legislation
Throughout history the mentally and physically disabled have been treated poorly. Denied their basic human rights, most people were locked away from their family in cold, sterile environments where they wilted away, unable to thrive. Education was not a right or privilege to these children. Often, it was not an option given to parents of the disabled. Parents were told to lock the child up in an institution or the child was sent to a special school that was segregated from the typical classroom. Disabled students were denied education because it was believed at one time disabled people would never be able to achieve a functional level of society’s expectations. Thankfully perceptions and expectations have changed rapidly since the 1950s. The influence of legislation, litigation, and progressive attitudes have allowed people with disabilities the right to an education and normal life.
Beginning in the 1950s, educators wanted to expend the services that were offered to students with disabilities. Even though the students were taken to special schools with facilities built specially for that purpose, the students were still separated from their peers. During the Kennedy administration, federal funds were given to Universities to prepare educators to teach special needs students. (Hardman, Drew, &Egan, 2011) President Kennedy had a sibling that was special needs, so he saw improvement to the special education programs as something that would be beneficial to families. Due to the presidential involvement, some of the stigma and negativity of having a child with a disability was lessened and parents began to take a more active role in the education of their child. However, parents and guardians still had a hard time finding help in the form or assistance, doctors or services. The government waited until 1973 to pass the public law 93-112 vocational rehabilitation act of 1973 section 503, that stated persons with a disability cannot be excluded from participation, denied benefits or, or subjected to discrimination under any benefit or activity receiving federal financial assistance.(Hardman et All, 2011). Then congress passed the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975. It states that a “free and appropriate public education must be provided to all children with a disability in the United States “(Hardman ET All, 2011). Parents were able to send their child to a public school for their education, without fear of segregation, but the law did not provide services for children under the age of five in most states. In 1986, the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments expanded the free and appropriate education to include preschool aged children. Legislation is a great start to public acceptance, however when the laws are followed parents and students must resort to litigation.
Legislation and litigations have been passed to govern the education of the disabled students. The most famous lawsuit that involved education was Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1954. Not only did the judgment end segregation, it stated that “education was a right and it must be equal” (Hardman ET all, 2011). While this ideal that education was a right it was not equal to students with disabilities. Student were still being taught in separate rooms or building then their non-disabled peers. Lawsuits began in the 1970s to allow students with disabilities the ability to have an equal education. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provided that every student was eligible to receive appropriate public education and have the opportunity to learn in a non-