In the United States, special education is guided by four federal statutes, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1975 (Section 504), the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
Public Law 94-142, Education of All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), passed in 1975, was a foundational congressional act, which required all schools that receive federal funding to provide a free appropriate public education for all students with disabilities. For the first time, this law guaranteed and enforced the rights of children with disabilities to receive unique educational opportunities delivered in the “least restrictive environment.” Prior to this legislation, more than half of all students with disabilities were turned away from schools or were provided a substandard education (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). The law, through multiple reauthorizations, is now known as the IDEA.
Since this landmark legislation was passed, key events have continued to impact the development of the field of special education. For example, in 1990, PL-94-142 was amended with a name change and updated requirements to meet the changing needs of students with disabilities and public education. This bill was amended again in 1997, and a final time in 2004 (ProjectIDEAL, 2013).
The legislative cornerstone of the IDEA set the foundation to “(a) improve how children with disabilities were identified and educated, (b) evaluate the success of these efforts, and (c) provide due process protections for children and families.” (U.S. Department of Education, 2015, Public Law 94-142, para. 2). Current and future special educators have an ethical responsibility to uphold these guiding principles as advocates for children with disabilities.
Please be sure to take about an hour to review this week’s Instructor Guidance; there you will find a wealth of useful information that will guide you as you progress through the week’s discussions and assignments and that can also be used as a scholarly reference in this week’s assignments. In addition, be sure to review the grading rubric as support for performance.
Initial Post: In three paragraphs, summarize how the amendments of IDEA addressed the progressive improvements of special education in meeting the needs of children with disabilities. Then, explain how special education law provides for an appropriate and equal public education as intended by the original iteration of the IDEA, Public Law 94-142, as well as the current governing law. Complete your initial post by reflecting on the impact that the development of these laws have had in protecting the rights of children with disabilities.
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