‘Pivotal force’ in special education policy helping COE celebrate 40th anniversary of landmark Disabilities Education law

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The UF College of Education and its School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies (SESPECS) are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act this week with two special events, and one of the architects of the historic law will be on hand to join in the celebrations.

Commonly known as IDEA, the landmark act, passed in 1975, guarantees that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free, appropriate public education.

THE FIRST COMMEMORATIVE EVENT in Gainesville, on Thursday, Nov. 9 from 4-5:30 p.m., is the 40th Anniversary Celebration for IDEA, a special reception for Edwin W. Martin, one of the original authors of the legislation who also served as the nation’s first Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services under President Jimmy Carter.

The reception will be held in Alachua County Public Schools’ Kirby Smith Administration Center boardroom, located at 620 E. University Avenue in Gainesville. Local teachers, parents, UF education alumni, faculty and students, and others who serve or work with students with disabilities are invited.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 3.05.22 PMThe event, themed “Celebrating Brighter Futures for Children and Youth with Disabilities,” is designed to share a UF resource with community partners. Co-sponsors with the College of Education and SESPECS are the local chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children. Fruit, cheese, cookies and soft drinks will be served.

ON FRIDAY, NOV. 20, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. in Room 158 (Dean’s Conference Room) of UF’s Norman Hall, Martin will lead a colloquium on “Reflections on Special Education as a Necessary and Noble Profession.” He will share his perceptions of the historic changes in national public policy that occurred while he was working from 1965 to 1981 for the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch.

Martin, 84, was a pivotal force behind the development of federal policy in special education under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. At Friday’s colloquium, he’ll discuss the key issues and players involved in the passage of IDEA and other special education legislation, and lessons learned that have relevance to the present and future of special education.

Lunch and dessert will be provided. After the colloquium, Martin will sign copies of his 2013 memoirs titled “Breakthrough: Federal Special Education Legislation 1965-1981.” He and Jean Crockett, professor and director of SESPECS, then will engage in a videotaped conversation reflecting on the historical evolution of special education public policy.

    SOURCE: Lynette Beacher, School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies; UF College of Education;
    WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;