US History of Special Education


Brown v. Board of Education

May 17, 1954

Brown v. Board was the court case that decided all students should be educated together and equally, regardless of race. It was the civil rights movement as a whole that kicked off the education for people with disabilities movement in the US.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

April 9, 1965
  • Signed by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Called for equal access to education for all students, as well as federal funding for the education of all students in poverty

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC)

October 8, 1971
  • Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • Decided children with disabilities should be education in public schools that met their individual needs

Congressional Investigation of 1972

  • Took place because of the PARC and Mills ruling
  • Congress took steps to find out how many children with disabilities were not having their needs met
  • The result: of the 8 million children with special needs, only about 4 million were having their needs met

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • It is now illegal for all public institutions and to receive federal funds if they discriminate against people with disabilities

Handicapped Children's Protection Act

August 6, 1986
  • Signed by Ronald Reagan
  • Because of this law, parents of a student with a disability had more voice in their child's IEP

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

June 4, 1997
  • Was originally the Education for all Handicapped Children's Act
  • With this act, all students have access to the same curriculum