• Special education refers to special academic services given to students of all ages who have written IEPs (individualized education plans). The special education services in today's public schools stem from lobbyists who fought for court cases, legislation, and educators who pioneered the idea that although some students learn differently, they should still be entitled to the same education given to other students.

    Dr. Samuel Kirk

    Dr. Samuel Kirk was a clinical psychologist who was famous for coining the term "learning disabilities" in 1963 and was instrumental in lobbying for laws that required schools to help students with learning disabilities. In 1964, he persuaded Congress to provide financial support for teachers which would provide funding for special education training. (Reference 1).

    Dr. Barbara Bateman

    Dr. Barbara Bateman, a professor and special education lawyer, worked very closely with Dr. Samuel Kirk on developing the term "learning disabilities." She now focuses on the purpose of the IEP, asserting that it should be a document that highlights the unique parts of a child's education, not how the child will fit into the general curriculum. (Reference 3 and Resource 1).

    Court Cases

    Court cases that hold significance for special education are the 1972 Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Mills v. Board of Education, both of which found that all students, regardless of disability, have the right to be educated. (Reference 2).

    Americans with Disabilities Act

    The ADA, signed into law in 1990, explained that society cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities. (Reference 2).

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

    IDEA, signed into law in 1975 and amended through 1997, explains that all children from 3 to 21 must be given a free and appropriate public education, regardless of the type or severity of the disability. (Reference 2).


    Samuel A. Kirk, 92, Pioneer of Special Education

    The Inclusive Classroom; Margo Mastropieri and Thomas Scruggs; 2000

    Writing IEPs for Success

    More Information:

    Information about Dr. Barbara Bateman

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