Special Education historical and Philosophical Dimensions






Special Education: historical and Philosophical Dimensions

Question 1: Discuss the Major Purposes of IDEA and its Historical Significance

Before the enactment of the Disability Act in to law in 1975, persons with disabilities were segregated from participating fully in the education system. According to historical evidence, children during these times did not have access to quality educational services (Ysseldyke & Robert, 2006). They were excluded form the education system and were also prevented from fully participating in this by lack of timely diagnosis of their special needs. Most importantly, lack of vital resources prevented them from attaining education. Since its enactment, the act has undergone various amendments, in line with the emergent needs of this population. Basically, this act seeks to ensure that disabled children have access to free and relevant public education. The special education needs to equip them with viable knowledge and skills and prepare them appropriately for employment, further education and independent living (Winzer 1993).

IDEA also ensures that the respective rights of parents as well as children with special needs are protected and uphold at all times. This is because of the realization that their status exposes them to a high degree of vulnerability. Then, the act seeks to help the relative agencies in providing for the education needs of these children. This is due to the fact that this education requires specialized attention that could be costly. Finally, the act makes regular assessments to ensure that the efforts geared towards providing the education are sustainable and effective (Giordano, 2007). This is achieved through proving standards to act as benchmarks in ensuring quality service. At this point, it should be acknowledged that as much as the agencies might make efforts to provide the education, they may lack vital resources and compromise the quality of the same.

Question 2: Why is ‘ableism’ morally wrong? (Develop your three major arguments)

Ableism is a form of discrimination on the basis of disability. Societies practicing this tend to favor the non disabled segment of the population and employ the same in providing societal standards. This further disadvantages the disabled population as the social environments do not support their executive functioning. The inherent prejudice is morally wrong as it does not enhance the greatest happiness for the disabled individuals.

In their review, Pfeifer and Thomas (1998) ascertain that ableism is often equated to the holistic worth of an individual. In this regard, individual that are able are considered to be more valuable than those that are disabled. In such instances, human worth is defined in terms of the value that it contributes to the society, rather than the intrinsic value of the same. Morality prescribes that humans have an intrinsic value that can not be compared to any instrumental value. Thus by conceiving the human importance in terms of instrumental value, ableism is immoral.

It is also indicated that in extreme measures, ableism can lead to elimination of the disabled individuals from the society (Howe & Ofelia, 1992). This is because the relative way of thinking strongly believes that they are invaluable and only pose unnecessary costs to the society. The right to die movement that advocates for death of disabled individuals and/or that experncng immense pain also derives its values from ableist beliefs. In this regard, it is worth noting that elimination of an individual’s life in itself is an immoral act. This presumption is based on religious values upon which vital moral virtues are derived. These prescribe that the right to eliminate human life is only accorded to the Higher Power.

Question 3: In your opinion, how can special education in today’s public schools be improved?

Special education is an important aspect of public education because of the beneficial effects that it has on the disabled population. Indeed, it can not be disputed that there have been inherent improvements in the intelligence capacities of the disabled populations since its initiation. However, there are still various challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve the education in public schools. The most important step that can be undertaken to improve the quality of this education in public schools is the revision of the curriculum. It is certain that the education system has undergone various changes in the recent past, including vital technological advancements. These should be incorporated in the revised curriculum and implemented across the nation.

This would go a long way in ensuring that disabled graduates fit the market requirements. The teachers of special education should also be given relevant education with regard to the new curriculum in order o equip them with relevant and sufficient skills. Further, public schools offering these services should be equipped with sufficient and effective modern facilities. Students as well as teachers need to be acquainted with their functioning I order to employ them in the teaching and learning process. Most importantly, the cost of this education needs to be made affordable to all segments of the population. Implementation of these measures will undoubtedly improve the quality of special education in schools.


Giordano, G. (2007). American Special Education. USA: Peter Lang Publishing.

Howe, K. & Ofelia, B. (1992). Ethical Concerns in Special Education. USA: Teachers College Press.

Pfeifer, P. & Thomas, H. (eds.) (1998). Ethics of Teaching. USA: Psychology Press.

Winzer, M. (1993). Historical Background of Special Education. Gallaudet: University Press.

Ysseldyke, J. & Robert, A. (2006). Legal Domains in Special Education. USA: Corwin Press.