Art Teachers and Special Education Law
Since the civil rights movement in the 1960s provided a legal basis for racism. Enforcement of equality, equal rights in America was a natural progression.
In other words, the human rights movement in the 1960s reminded everyone that all human beings are equal and have the same rights. Of course, this has led to the argument that the education community should consider students with disabilities, include them in their regular education, and create an educational system for them. It was the efforts of many teachers and parents to ensure that children with disabilities were educated under equal conditions. In the early 1960's, a school for children with disabilities had a dirty basement that teachers had to clean, remove snakes and paint in order to turn the basement into a classroom.
Before proper laws were enacted and the concept of special education was conceived, the general public did not even know that children with disabilities could learn social behavior and academic skills through education. But the rise of psychology has brought more knowledge about education and methods for people with disabilities. The public began to understand the circumstances and peculiarities of people with disabilities and was in favor of the fact that they should be educated.
Anti-discrimination Laws: Equal Opportunity for All Citizens Following the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, several important laws and movements interacted to increase opportunities for Americans with disabilities. These include the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980 (CRIPA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Each has made its own unique contribution to the fabric of society, including education, as we know it today.
A chronological summary of these historical trends is as follows.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1 9 7 3 (P.L. 9 3 -11 2 ) and Section 5 0 4
Even when Americans with disabilities were aware of their rights as citizens, they were often unable to exercise those rights because of discrimination and inaccessibility. The Rehabilitation Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted or funded by federal agencies. This applied to employment and any program, including school programs, that received federal assistance.
The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) of 1980, (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997 et seq.)
Largely in response to social and educational advocacy by parents and professionals during the late 1970s and 1980s, Congress enacted CRIPA, which extended civil rights to children and adults with disabilities who were housed in institutions. In what became known as the deinstitutionalization movement, mental health and intellectual disabilities institutions were closed. Whenever possible, residents were returned to their families or communities and families of children with disabilities were provided supportive community services as an alternative to institutional placement. For those remaining in institutions, CRIPA charged the Department of Justice with monitoring state institutions for people with intellectual disabilities to ensure their rights and stop abuse.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, (P.L. 101-336)
The ADA expanded protection against discrimination to public businesses and organizations, to local, state, and federal government facilities, services, and to communications. ADA encompasses public access, employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. ADA also mandated that federal, state, and local governments may not discriminate against individuals with disabilities and that their programs and facilities must be accessible, consistent with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (US Department of Justice, 1990).
Education Laws: Equal Education Opportunities
Margaret Mead in 1935 wrote, “If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place” (Bartlett & Kaplan, 2002, p. 761). Following passage of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the American with Disabilities Act there was increasing concern about educational opportunities for the nation’s children with disabilities.
Education is, according to the United States Constitution, a state responsibility.
Thus, there is often great variability in standards and approaches among states. Prior to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, despite the existence of compulsory attendance laws, most states allowed school authorities to exclude students if they believed that these students would not benefit from an education or if their presence would be disruptive to the teacher or other students.
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-142)
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act became known as the “mainstreaming” law, although mainstreaming is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the document. Its provisions formed the initial foundation that ensured that students with disabilities would receive an education appropriate to their individual needs.
-- Art education under P.L. 94-142. Although mainstreaming and a gradual move toward including students with disabilities in general education classes resulted from P.L. 94-142, no specific reference to the arts was made in the rules and regulations of the law.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990
In this reauthorization of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, IDEA gave particular attention to recognizing differences in services at various ages, including early intervention for very young children and transition for older students. Attention was also directed to the importance of technology and parent/ school partnerships to effective education of students with disabilities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 (P.L. 105-17) “
An increased emphasis on educational outcomes in the 1990s led to important changes in IDEA. High expectations for learning were promoted along with the participation of students with disabilities in state-wide testing. In addition, parents and regular classroom teachers were given a more extensive role in evaluation and placement decisions, and in the development of the IEP, Individual Education Program.
IDEA'97 also addressed the disproportionate representation of minorities in special education. Many were concerned that African American students were more likely to be referred and determined eligible for special education, as were certain other ethnic groups. Conversely, some ethnic groups were less likely to be enrolled in special education. IDEA'97 required each state to collect and examine data, including identification and placement procedures, for evidence of significant disproportionality based on race in state or Native American Schools.
Art education under IDEA ‘97.
There are five major implications in IDEA ‘97 for ular classroom, for art educators in the areas of general education curriculum, participation in state-wide tests, provision for accommodations, and include the contributions of diverse cultures in lessons.
Educators are expected to recognize diverse cultures and include lessons and activities that help students understand, appreciate, and embrace the growing diversity of cultures that influence our global society.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110)
‘The No Child Left Behind Act is a general education law designed to hold states, schools, and districts accountable for the academic achievement of all students. tI represents a sweeping reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and an increased federal role and investment in education. NCLB is a complex and potentially far-reaching law with immediate requirements and consequences. It requires long-term planning to project accountability results in future years.
-- Art education under NCLB.
Recent studies of the important role of art for students and public support for art education in schools are clearly reflected in NCLB. However, the stress on reading and mathematics achievement in NCLB has also been cited as a cause of reductions in arts programs.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) (P.L. 108-446)
The most recent IDEA reauthorization helps ensure equity, accountability, and improved education for children with disabilities, in part because it aligns IDEA s closely with NCLB. For example, as in NCLB, the arts are included in the IDEA, 2004 definition of “core academic subjects” (Sec. 602(4) of IDEA). Other issues that are addressed, updated, or expanded are accountability, especially alternative * assessment; eligibility for special education: IEPs, discipline, transition, teacher quality; disproportionality; and enforcement.
Regulations and Reauthorization as a Continuous Process
As this book went to press, the proposed federal regulations to guide implementation of IDEA 2004 have been published and public comment received, but the regulations were not yet finalized. Once
Despite the monumental efforts of disability and child advocates to get disability rights laws enacted, it is evident that individual teachers, families and communities must continue advocating for students with disabilities.
For example, in 2002 it was reported that students with disabilities dropped out of high school at twice the rate of students without disabilities and their higher education enrollment was 50% less than the general population (President's Commission on Special Education, 2002). Students with disabilities need individual opportunities to develop into fulfilled, contributing citizens. One by one, it is up to us as individuals to continue to weave their strengths into the fabric of our society.
Art educators have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the goals of our society for students with disabilities reach into each art class and touch every child with disabilities. Legislation has stressed high expectations for students with disabilities. It dramatizes the critical importance of student access to the general curriculum and appropriate accommodations on state-wide tests.
The pivotal role of the Individual Education Program (IEP) as an individualized guide to academic, functional and social goals, as well as to the accommodations needed by students to demonstrate their achievement more accurately, is also important. Art educators can offer to participate in IEP development, but most importantly, they can review the IEPs for each of their students with disabilities. Whether a student is in a studio or academic class, the IEP is an excellent tool for meeting the needs of each individual student with disabilities. With and through our knowledge of the arts, art teachers can be unique and vital catalysts and mentors for positive student growth.
Myungja Anna Koh