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The History of Inclusion in United States

Robert L. Osgood

Publication Year: 2005

As a significant term, inclusion came into use relatively recently in the long history of special education in the United States. Since the 1800s, when children with disabilities first were segregated for instruction in public schools, professionals and parents have called for more equitable, “normal” treatment of these students, and for closer contact with their nondisabled peers. Through the years, the central issues of the discussions between educators and parents have focused on who should be considered disabled and who should bear responsibility for planning and providing for their education. The History of Inclusion in the United States traces the antecedents of this ongoing debate to answer questions about what inclusion is, how it came to be, and where it might go. In this comprehensive study, author Robert L. Osgood reveals how the idea of inclusion has evolved into broader realms of thought and practice. In its earliest manifestations, educators dwelled upon the classroom setting itself, wondering whether “disabled” children belonged there; if not, why not; and if so, how this could be accomplished? By the late 1960s, the scope of the discussion had shifted to assess the comprehensive structures of special education and its relationship with general education. The History of Inclusion seamlessly follows this progression into the present decade, in which current educational policy questions the need for any sort of separate “special education” in principle and structure.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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pp. 1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 4-5


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pp. 6

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pp. 8-23

Since the enactment of PL 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, the United States has undergone a profound transformation in its efforts to provide a “free and appropriate education” for school-age individuals with disabilities. The original legislation has been revised several times, most notably with the Individuals...

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1. Special Education to 1930: The Rise of Segregation

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pp. 24-40

The current extensive involvement of American public schools in the education of children with disabilities constitutes a relatively recent development. Significant intellectual, physical, and behavioral differences among individuals have of course been observed for literally thousands of years, mostly in the form of...

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2. 1930–1960: Special Education Comes of Age

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pp. 41-68

Between 1930 and 1960, the world of special education, both in and beyond the public schools, changed dramatically. During these three decades, the number of children identified as disabled and placed in a special education setting steadily increased; research on the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of...

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3. 1960–1968: Challenging Traditions in Special Education

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pp. 69-91

As the United States entered the 1960s, American public schools faced challenges in several areas. Discussions regarding social and economic inequality led to intense national soul-searching, with the sweeping implications of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision affecting developments...

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4. 1968–1975: Mainstreaming as the Alternative to Segregation

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pp. 92-116

Lloyd Dunn’s article, which openly questioned so much of special education’s tradition and character, stimulated the kind of critique and self-reflection in the field that Dunn undoubtedly hoped it would. Over the next several years, a number of scholars and practitioners in special education reacted to Dunn’s critique...

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5. 1977–1985: Refining the Concept of Integration

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pp. 117-140

Adjusting to the mandates of PL 94-142 as well as to the implications and possibilities of mainstreaming proved to be a tremendous challenge in developing and implementing special education in the public schools of the United States during the late 1970s and into the 1980s. The implementation of this...

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6. 1985–1992: Integration,Mainstreaming, and the Regular Education Initiative

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pp. 141-172

In 1984, Susan and William Stainback published what would become one of the seminal statements in the debate concerning integration in special education. Their article, “A Rationale for the Merger of Special and Regular Education,” appeared in the October 1984 issue of Exceptional Children. Briefly, the Stainbacks presented a case,...

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7. Resistance to Integration: Giftedness and Deafness

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pp. 173-186

Perhaps the most powerful legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 was the widespread acceptance in national legal and educational policy of the ethical necessity of authentic, meaningful integration whenever and wherever possible. The abuse of civil and human rights caused by the forced segregation...

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8. 1992–2004: The Promise, Limits, and Irony of Inclusion

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pp. 187-207

Today, special education stands at a crossroads. After decades of efforts to create truly special education for children with disabilities, decades of internal and external critique of the scope, form, and substance of special education within public school systems, and decades of trial and error—intellectual as well as practical—in trying...


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pp. 208-227


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pp. 228-233

E-ISBN-13: 9781563683305
E-ISBN-10: 156368330X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563683183
Print-ISBN-10: 1563683180

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 10 photos
Publication Year: 2005