Original essays examine the development of special education policies and problems for implementation
Special Education Policies
Their History, Implementation, and Finance
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Jay G. Chambers and William T. Hartman
Special education is an example of federal policy intervention in a large public system operated and financed by state and local authorities. These original essays ask how a federal mandate for change is developed and implemented.
Many people and jurisdictions are involved in implementing Public Law 94-142, The Education of All Handicapped Children's Act. Local residents must pay for the expanded commitment through school taxes. Superintendents, principals, and special monitors must administer the programs, which often involve reorganizing parts of the school system. Because of "mainstreaming," teachers must learn to adjust to classes which may contain more handicapped children. Further, the law offers parents procedures for contesting the placement of their children.
PL 94-142 mandates changes (it says "must"). Putting the law into practice however, involves considerable negotiation, which takes place in the context of the prior history of special education in the community. Another complication looming in the background is the problem of identifying the number of children with different kinds of mental and physical handicaps and the costs associated with educating these children.
Jay G. Chambers is Associate Director and Senior Research Economist, Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance, Stanford University.
William T. Hartman teaches in the College of Education at the University of Oregon.