Forecasting the Future of Special Education

Special education is defined by the IDEA as specially designed instruction that doesn’t cost anything to parents and meets the unique requirements of a disabled child. At present, the success of special education appears to be at the highest level. But what is its future?

Origin of Special Education

Asknown to us today, special education wasn’t present until the mid-twentieth century. Usually, kids with cognitive disabilities were homeschooled. Since they weren’t enrolled in schools, these kids didn’t get to socialize with other kids. This refrained them from obtaining quality that was freely enjoyed by their non-disabled peers.

In the later part of the 19th century and at the start of the 20th century, a handful of schools were set up solely for kids with disabilities. However, the extremely expensive nature of these schools made it possible for only kids from affluent families to attend them. Additionally, these schools offered a limited array of subjects and had a biased and segregated atmosphere. Lastly, the quality of education offered by these schools was still inferior to what was delivered by the regular schools.

IDEA – Its Enactment and Impact on Special Education

EAHCA (Education for All Handicapped Children Act) became law in 1975. This federal act required all states to make sure that students with disabilities were given access to the best possible learning opportunities as a precondition for obtaining federal funds. Later, the IDEA was crafted from EAHCA, which possibly laid the basis for the nation’s organized special education.

Due to the IDEA, it has become possible for kids with disabilities to get an education of the same quality that their peers have. Depending on the extent their disabilities allow, these children with disabilities can go to the same schools as their non-disabled peers, do the same activities, and even communicate with them. Thanks to the IDEA, the educational standards of special schools established exclusively for kids with disabilities have also gone up. This helps children from poor families to attend these schools.

Special Education’s Future – Threats to IDEA

The IDEA has played a noteworthy role in recent years to help provide quality learning to kids with disabilities. In our nation, numerous policies have been created over the years to improve special education. For example, when President Obama was in office, the government augmented federal protection for disabled school kids with the issuance of some policy letters, like the Equity in IDEA Regulation. However, the current administration’s recent regulatory inclinations indicate that all policy guidance will be analyzed.

Consequently, stakeholders worry that some of the policy guidance that has served special education well could be withdrawn. For instance, an announcement has been made of putting on hold the Equity in IDEA Regulation for two more years. This could be perilous as it may make special education stray from the promising route it is presently following.


There’s optimism that many of the present policy letters won’t be rescinded. Even if they are, they will be mere guidelines laid down to help accomplish the goals of the policies related to special education. States can keep on following them to maintain the good work being done in the field of special education.