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Attitude, Legislation, and Litigation on Special Education - Essay Example

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The educational needs of students with disabilities has resulted in legislation that has seen a shift in attitudes and action in the classroom in the last 30 years. These students gained public awareness and government protection by the passing of the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975…
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Attitude, Legislation, and Litigation on Special Education
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Download file to see previous pages The thrust of the special education movement has been to give students with disabilities access to a general education, remove the stigma of being labeled, and create methods to monitor and measure the success of these programs.
The 1975 act was originally known as the Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA) and was designed to give students with disabilities a free education in the least restrictive environment possible (Special education laws, 2005). Subsequent amendments have been aimed at broadening the definition of disabled to include visual impairment and making provisions for including these students in regular classes when possible. Physical and mental challenges have historically been stigmatized and labeling has often been used as a detrimental tool to exclude students from normal activities. The 1975 Act was passed to reduce these social consequences and provide a system that was more fair in its treatment of the disabled.
Prior to any legislation regarding special education, disabilities were generally viewed as a negative and the students were often shunted to areas outside the mainstream school system. One of the issues that have framed the special education debate in the last 30 years is the move towards inclusion. ...
"outright denial of disability in some cases, illustrated by the contention that disability exists only in attitudes" (Kauffman, McGee, & Brigham, 2004, p.615). This has had the counter-productive effect of making a disability seem as something that does not matter. While this has had the positive effect of making regular classrooms more accessible to students, it has also minimized the challenge that faces these students. In many cases the past 30 years have seen attitudes change from discriminatory to indifference.
The long-term outlook for special education in its current form could produce results that are the opposite of what it hopes to accomplish. Pratts (2000) states that " race and social class are being related to levels of academic achievement". This is only logical as we see poverty and family history placing many students at a disadvantage. This impacts the makeup of special education classes because "academic achievement is a strong predictor of referral and eventual placement in special education" (Hosp & Reschly, 2004, p.187). This has the potential to place a disproportionate number of students into special education based on socio-economic class. If the current movement of inclusion creates an environment of indifference, these students may become isolated and neglected. Public awareness of the realities of being disabled needs to be continually addressed. Without creating a proper public attitude towards special education, we may create a system that is less restrictive and more fair, but we also may cultivate an atmosphere of injustice.
Feelings of awkwardness have often been a part of my own personal reaction to students with disabilities. In the past I was uncomfortable confronting their disabilities due to my confusion about whether or not they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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