Special Education Series

Idea 25

Progress and Problems

In this two-part series, Education Week looks at the history of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at the 25-year mark. The groundbreaking federal special education law—originally known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act—dramatically changed public education.

Special Education IDEA Opens Doors, Fans Controversy
Twenty-five years ago this week, President Gerald R. Ford signed the most important piece of special education legislation in the nation's history into law. Since then, it has created both opportunities and challenges, perhaps beyond expectations.
Joetta L. Sack, March 3, 2008
11 min read
Special Education Schools Grapple With Reality of Ambitious Law
President Gerald R. Ford didn't hide his skepticism as he signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act into law 25 years ago. Since then, involved parties have often expressed frustration over the very problems that President Ford anticipated.
Joetta L. Sack, December 6, 2000
15 min read
Special Education 'They Accept Me For Who I Am'
On a recent fall day, Katie Maunder and seven of her 9th grade classmates are sitting in front of a slide show about swamp life. Two students are bent over, taking notes, and another is helping with the projector.
Michelle Galley, December 6, 2000
4 min read
Special Education Teacher's Career Spans Changes Spurred by 1975 Law
When Randy Briggs graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in special education in 1976, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was still new, having been passed just the year before.
Michelle Galley, December 6, 2000
3 min read
Special Education 'I Know That I Am Here for a Reason'
The same year that Congress passed a sweeping new mandate on special education, Tai C. Du was born in Vietnam. Since then, the two have traveled a long road together.
Michelle Galley, November 29, 2000
4 min read
Special Education Retired Administrator Notes Shift in Federal Law's Focus
As a former teacher and school administrator, Virginia Copeland has spent a career in special education. But as the stepparent of a child with speech and learning disabilities, she has gained a different view of teaching children with disabilities.
Joetta L. Sack, November 29, 2000
2 min read
Special Education Lobbying for Change: A Parent's View
In 1968, Martha Ziegler was preparing to send her 4-year-old daughter with autism to school. So she called her local school district to inquire about the types of programs it had for autistic students.
Joetta L. Sack, November 29, 2000
3 min read