The Public Interest

Educating the handicapped: reforming a radical law

John C. Pittenger & Peter Kuriloff

Winter 1982

FEW educators would dispute the fact that Public Law 94-142, the somewhat grandiosely-titled “Education for All Handicapped Children Act” (hereafter, the Act), was the single most important piece of federal education legislation enacted during the 1970’s. In one sense, it can be seen as a logical outgrowth of the civil rights legislation of an earlier period—the extension to handicapped children of “equal protection” in the form of equal access to the public schools of America. But in other ways, the Act went far beyond any prior legislation.

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