The History of Special Education in the Twentith Century

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The History of Special Education in the Twentith Century During the twentieth century, drastic changes were made to vastly improve the special education system to ensure that all students, regardless of their ability, were given equal rights according to the Constitution of the United States. During early colonial America, schooling was not mandatory and it was primarily given to the wealthy Anglo-Saxon children (Carlson, p230). Children were mainly taught in the home or in a single room schoolhouse. Therefore, children of limited mental capability were not likely to be schooled. Also, in a non-graded schoolhouse, children of differing abilities did not pose problems. With the beginning of mandatory education in 1852 and the influx of large numbers of immigrants with their children (Reddy, p5), America was faced for the first time with educating a heterogeneous group of students. These children had diverse social and cultural backgrounds, as well as something the educators of the previous, homogenous schools had not been forced to deal with. Many of these children showed signs of various learning, developmental, physical, and emotional/behavioral problems. During the 1920's, separate schools were established for the blind, deaf, and more severely retarded (Reddy, p5). However, students that were considered mildly disabled were educated in regular schools, just thought to be 'slow learners'. Soon educators started to develop separate classes for disabled students. The reasoning for taking them out of the normal classroom (exclusion) has not changed in the last eighty years. People today, who are still in favor of exclusion, have the same justification for their belief. It was thought that students... ... middle of paper ... ... with Learning Disabilities (Maryland, NASW Press; 1990) Deno, Evelyn. "Special Education as Developmental Capital" Exceptional Children (1970) Dunn, L.M. "Special Education for the Mildly Retarded-Is Much of it Justifiable?" Exceptional Children (1968) Gallagher, J.J. "The Special Education Contract for Mildly Handicapped Children" Exceptional Children (1972) Koch, Kathy. "Special Education" Congressional Quarterly (November, 2000) Reddy, Linda, A. Inclusion of Disabled Children and School Reform: A Historical Perspective (New Jersey; Fairleigh Dickinson University, Haworth Press; 1999) Turnbull, A.P. et al. Exceptional Lives (2nd edition) (New Jersey; Prentice Hall Inc. 1999)

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