The Public Interest

Revamping special education

Douglas Tynan & Wade F. Horn

Summer 2001

PRIOR to the 1950s, the federal government was not routinely involved in the education of children with special needs. A few federal laws had been passed to provide direct educational benefits to persons with disabilities, mostly in the form of grants to states for residential asylums for the “deaf and dumb, and to promote education of the blind.” These laws, however, were in the tradition of providing residential arrangements for persons with serious disabilities, services that had existed since colonial times. 

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