47 Years Later, Are We Delivering on the Promise of IDEA?

IDEA -- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- 1975 > Present
By Valerie C. Williams, Director, Office of Special Education Programs

Forty-seven years ago, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) opened the doors for children with disabilities. At the time IDEA was passed in 1975 (originally named the Educational for All Handicapped Children Act, or Public Law 94-142), Congress found that children with disabilities were excluded entirely from the public school system. The passage of IDEA meant that no more children with disabilities could be turned away from school and required that they have available to them “a free appropriate education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs.”

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