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History of Special Education Law Essay

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Education is beyond doubt an important aspect of life. Through education, an individual develops his talent and acquires knowledge that is necessary in understanding all aspects of life. Apart from that, education is the very stage at which one develops his discernment as to what is good and what is not. More importantly, values are strongly built up through education and through the educational institutions. Since education has a wide-reaching worth, it has significantly become a way of life. It is noteworthy that right to education has undergone a battle, especially in the aspect of special education.

The disabled children were usually not afforded with their right to have adequate education. Eventually, the legislations such as Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were enacted. The Venn diagram illustrates the similarities and the differences of the laws in many aspects. Although the laws are meant only to address similar problem on education of children with disabilities, many changes have been introduced in the amendment.

Notably, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) was enacted in 1975 and was amended as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990 (Wilson, 1996). Similarly, both the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were enacted to address the problem in education. Notably, before these laws were enacted, the educational system in the country was concentrated only on regular students and on regular educational system.

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Many students having disabilities were not given much attention in the educational institutions because of the lack if programs and facilities that will address the disabled students’ needs. After the development in the political and social aspect of the society in the 50’s and 60’s, educational acts addressing the needs of the disabled students were enacted. Both acts were primarily focused on providing education to special students. It was referred to as special, because the students have special disabilities that hinder them from grasping the knowledge or the lessons being taught to them.

Through the laws, special students were provided with equal opportunity to education. However, before a student is afforded the education under the programs, the students are evaluated by a team. Remarkably, the disabilities involved must involve deafness, deaf-blindedness, difficulty of hearing, mental retardation, multiple handicap, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, speech impairment, and visual impairment (EricDigests. Org, 2009).

Furthermore, under both Acts, the parents are afforded with right to contest the decision of the evaluating team or schools as to the condition of their child. Through dispute resolutions, the parents have administrative remedy of questioning the decision of the schools as to the requirement and the acceptance or non-acceptance of their children. The aim of providing dispute resolution at in the administrative level is to alleviate the costs of litigation that are usually brought in the judicial branch.

However, both laws have differences in many areas. Through the amendment of the Handicapped Children Act by the IDEA, many amendments were introduced. As to legibility of the child, the EHA allows children from 3-5 years-old while IDEA allows children from 3-9 years-old. The education provided by IDEA extends to a child until reaching the age of 21. With regard to evaluation group that identifies whether a child passes the qualifications, the EHA involves only one teacher and specialist having knowledge about the disability (Ericdigest. Org, 2009).

However, under the IDEA, the evaluation process continues with the forming of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team that assesses the educational needs of the child (Knoblauch). The evaluation and assessment made by the IEP must be known by the parents of the child evaluated and the parents are also encouraged to participate in forming the program needed by their child. Apart from that, regular teachers are also required to participate in the IEP team (Knoblauch). Another area of differences is the range of the law.

The inclusion of infants and toddlers is expressly provided in the IDEA but not in EHA. The IDEA provides for the intervention and pre-school services wherein schools participate in the transition planning conference for disabled toddlers entering pre-school (Knoblauch). The IDEA supports the idea that intervention is the payor of the last resort (Knoblauch). Under this idea, As to requirement of teachers, EHA does not explicitly provided for strict qualifications of teachers teaching children with disabilities.

But, under the IDEA, a highly-qualified teacher is required. The criteria demands that a teacher has been fully trained and certified in special education or has passed the special education licensure exams and that the teacher must demonstrate knowledge in all subjects (Stewart and Stahlman, 1998). In addition, teachers and personnel under the IDEA are afforded with trainings needed in improving the system and in assuring that the students are afforded with quality education. It is also noteworthy that students are given more attention in IDEA than in EHA.

During the existence of EHA, the students with disabilities were provided of limited educational resources. However, in IDEA, students are assessed every three months (Knoblauch). Remarkably, one of the unique features of IDEA is the evaluating the needs of the student in a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) (Knoblauch). Through the LRE, the child is isolated in an environment that is fully focused only in his needs. In a case of a deaf, for example, the child is isolated from meaningful social and communication interaction (Stewart and Stahlman, 1998).

The amendments introduced by the IDEA have greatly changed the education system. The participation of parents has been an important factor in IDEA. In EHA, the responsibility of training and evaluating the child was bestowed mainly upon the teacher and the special education institutions. But under IDEA, the parents are informed of the results of the evaluation of their child and are involved in the formation of programs that will be given to their child. In addition, parents also participate in the placement evaluation of the child (Knoblauch).

Hence, parents contribute an important role in the placement decision that affects the education of their child. In summing up, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is both aimed in addressing the needs of the children’s with disabilities as to their learning capacities. Through the specified disabilities, the children usually find difficulty in grasping the knowledge being taught to them.

Apart from that, they were deprived of their right to adequate education because of the inadequacy of the educational program that will fully address their problem. However, through the enactment of the said acts, special students are now given equal and free education that is responsive to their special needs. The said acts however, have significant differences. The IDEA, amending the EHA, has introduced significant changes that are wider in scope and guarantees.

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