Special Education History

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Abstract This paper will outline the history of special education. Prior to the civil rights movement, special education did not exist and often left students with disabilities without any education or means to a successful life. There were many laws and movements that contributed to changing the face of the education system for special needs students. Rights and legislation changed over time to improve the quality of life and education for all students. The IDEA is the current legislative act that functions in society today. It was created through revising many different aspects of previous legislation. While great strides have been taken, there are still challenges that face the special education system today. The History of Special Education Students with diverse needs did not always have the same opportunity to learn as they do today. Special education was not always seen as an option and children with disabilities often suffered the fate of being forgotten members of society. Throughout history, children with different abilities gained rights to a fair education and treatment in society. Physical disabilities were wrongly viewed as limiting a person’s mental abilities. Laws were passed securing proper treatment and education for students with special needs. The Civil Rights movement is remembered most for racial equality, however, this era also sparked the accelerated progress for people with special needs as well. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the current legislation that outlines the rights and regulations of special education. This paper will outline the history of laws and movements that allowed special education students to obtain rights to a free public education and equal rights in society. Prior to World War II, special needs students were outcasts of society and often left to parish. Students who had
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