Category: Education

Why does Freemasonry support public schools?

Every year, the California Grand Lodge and the constituent Masonic lodges proclaim one month “Public Schools Month.” The sitting Grand Master delivers a proclamation every month to each member lodge at one or more of its monthly stated meetings. Its purpose was always to encourage lodges planning a program publicly supporting Public Schools, in a way that makes it clear to all the depth of Freemasonry’s commitment.

Each lodge had to make its own decisions about what to do, and was not allowed to participate in a state-wide Masonic project. This effort was a haphazard execution of a variety of activities by different lodges, each working in isolation. These programs included elaborate, energetic interactions with selected Public Schools and nothing.

There are many reasons why some lodges have done very little or not at all. Some lodges have had members who are not involved in lodge ritual or social events. Other lodges had poor leadership. Yet another lodge’s financial resources weren’t sufficient to provide enough support for even the most basic activities.

All of this changed for California Masons in 2011 and their lodges. Grand Master William J. Bray III was the one who led the way in implementing a statewide Masonic pledge to the state’s public Why does a school have to fundraise? systems. The energy to implement the programs was generated by his leadership, but the plan was developed by ordinary Masons who are involved in Freemasonry throughout the state.

A survey was conducted by the Grand Lodge Executive Committee and staff and sent to every member of each constituent lodge. This is the latest Grand Lodge Strategic Plan. The most popular response to that survey was: Masonry should be a force for reviving our Public Schools. Masons from all over the state agreed that public education must be saved, improved and demonstrated to their communities that they believe a system of free public education is vital to the survival of a free society.

It is important to understand how public schools became the dominant educational institution in America. This will help us to better understand why so many people from different political, religious, and cultural backgrounds support public schools. Horace Mann, the “Father” of the Common School Movement, is largely responsible for this. Mann was also a Mason. However, it would be wrong to conclude that Mann’s devotion to public school causes was because he was a Mason. It would be wrong to conclude that Freemasonry supports Public Schools because Horace Mann is a Mason. Masonry is a belief system that Mann found attractive enough to allow him to be initiated into it. Mann and Freemasonry shared the same respect for virtue, morality, and the advancement and improvement of the enlightened public.

Public Schools today are the main source of education for our children, from kindergarten to high school. This was not always the case. Parents with strong political support have staunchly opposed public school education. They refuse to give their children to teachers for moral education. Some children were home-schooled even in America’s early days. Private tutors were available for wealthy parents. Thomas Jefferson started a national dialogue soon after the American Revolution ended. This gained so much momentum that public schools became the norm.

Jefferson believed that a free society would be more stable if everyone had equal access to knowledge, knowledge which they could use in their daily lives. The nation was left without an education system after the Revolution and its citizens were left to their own devices. Jefferson, who has at different times advocated for both small and large government, suggested that tax dollars could be used to fund an educational system nationwide. His idea was rejected at the time, and it remained unfulfilled for almost a century.

In the 1840’s, there were a few public schools in the country that were financially supported by the communities that could afford them. Horace Mann, who was following Jefferson’s footsteps, started his own crusade. Mann’s story is too long to tell, but it suffices to say that Massachusetts wouldn’t have passed its first compulsory education laws in 1852 if Mann hadn’t acted with an energetic, single-minded commitment to what he believed to be necessary. The next year, New York followed suit and all American children had to attend at least elementary school by 1918. The pursuit of equality was what followed, a success shared by Freemasonry and America’s Founding Fathers.

Schools in the South and the North were separated at the beginning of the 20th Century. In 1896, in Plessy v. Ferguson the United States Supreme Court ruled segregation legal. This decision would be overturned in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. The issue that was decided in 1954 was the idea that all men are equal before the Supreme Architects of the Universe. This was in regard to equal education access. It is not surprising that Earl Warren, a Mason, was the Chief Justice of 1954. All Public Schools were open from that point forward to all children from all backgrounds.

Masons across America were at the forefront of the movement for enlightenment between 1896 and 1954 with their clarion call to support Public Schools. It’s not surprising nor ironic that the Ancient & Accepted Scots Rite for Southern Jurisdiction of America, whose are at Charleston, North Carolina, first ventured into community service was to support Public Schools. We are grateful to George F. Moore, the Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction, for his uncompromising leadership during that endeavor.

Moore, a prolific writer, auditioned for his Masonic position before being elected Grand Commander in 1914 in the Supreme Council. His efforts, which were made before World War I began, were widely appreciated. This included New York, where Moore and organizations like the Scottish Rite helped to pass its compulsory education laws in 1918. The Scottish Rite was known across America as the greatest promoter of literacy throughout the country through the support of Public Schools in the years following Moore’s election as Grand Commander.

California Masons were active in supporting Public Schools. Charles A. Adams, Grand Masters of Masons in California, made Public Schools a Masonic Project for the first time in 1920. In response to World War I’s increasing demands on human resources, thousands of teachers were forced from their classrooms. They were required to serve other important tasks, such as assisting in combat overseas, tending to farms to produce the food needed to sustain a nation in crisis, and operating factories that would supply war materiel to ever-increasing demands. Grand Master Adams was horrified to see the fallout. California saw approximately 600 schools close across the state – an unusual number for that period.

While Freemasonry has always resisted taking sides in the worlds of public politics, Grand Master Adams carefully considered the benefits and drawbacks of engaging in such activities for the benefit of Public Schools. Masonry was fundamentally about instilling in its members the importance and value of learning. It was designed to instill the importance of learning the liberal arts and sciences such as logic, logic, arithmetic and music on candidates for Masonic degrees. The idea of establishing public schools throughout the country was conceived by our first president, who is also a prominent member of Freemasonry. George Washington wrote this letter to John Adams, his Vice President.

“Wise, intelligent, and judicious education that is supported and patronized by communities will bring together the sons from the rich and the children of the poor; it will cultivate natural genius and elevate the soul; it will excite laudable envy to excel in knowledge and piety; and it will reward its patrons by shedding its benign influence upon the public mind.”

Grand Master Adams had additional Masonic precedent to refer to before deciding what to do. De Witt Clinton was Grand Master of Masons and Governor of New York. He is now known as the “Father” of New York Public Schools. Benjamin Franklin, Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania while he was serving, openly supported the adoption of Public Schools.

With this history and precedent, Grand Master Adams decided that California Masons should support the strengthening of the Public Schools system in California. He was well aware that Masonry held a long-held belief that public education is essential for maintaining a free society. Masonic virtues encouraged a concept that went beyond the accumulation of knowledge. Equal access to knowledge promotes freedom, strengthens the middle-class, and without these democratic principles, the Republic’s fundamental principles will fade away. It was based on these reasons that Grand Master Adams issued the Masonic Public Schools Week Proclamation on August 30, 1920.

Masonry’s support for public schools did not stop there. This support has been continued in Masonic jurisdictions throughout the years, but perhaps the most significant example of this was the ongoing nationwide work of the Scottish Rite. Brook Hays, a Thirty Third degree Scottish Rite Mason, and Arkansas congressman, sacrificed his political career to support Public Schools by emulating the example set by Grand Commanders Moore & Cowles.

Hays, a lay-preacher who was also a former president of Southern Baptist Convention took a stand against many Southern Baptist cronies and led the public charge against Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, who opposed equal public education for all races. Dwight D. Eisenhower, president of the Arkansas National Guard, ordered Hays’ persistence and courage to take action. They advanced to that state under his command and restored obedience to the new law of Kansas, Brown. This binds all of America and Freemasonry forever to a commitment for free education for all.

Public Schools were being attacked by religious groups in 1985, when Fred Kleinknecht was elected Grand Commander of The Scottish Rite. Two Masonic values were being attacked: freedom of religion, and the right to free public education for all. Kleinknecht was determined not to abandon the work of Henry Clausen to separate religion from the state. This is the only way to stop the tyranny and corruption of theocratic doctrines. The religious fundamentalists that eventually turned their ire against Masonry would continue to be a problem for Grand Commander Kleinknecht throughout his tenure. This ire has not abated.

Kleinknecht’s position was not helped by the fact that Clausen, Grand Commander, had taken a strong public stance against prayer within Public Schools. Clausen’s position was seen as emblematic of everything wrong with Masonry by those who fervently pressed for prayer inclusion in Public Schools. It has led to a relentless and unrelenting attempt to discredit the Craft’s members. It’s not surprising that some powerful forces have increased their attack on Public Schools, posing a threat to the foundation of human freedom.

Today, our Public Schools are managed at the state level by departments and local school districts. Public officials can also be elected or appointed to run them locally. There are roughly 15,000 of these school districts across the country, according to one estimate. Many are run and supervised by local governments. There is very little federal oversight and curricula can vary from one state to the next. This has led some to suggest that more coordination or centralization could eliminate the disparities in student performance between states.

Masons should not only focus on literacy rates at elementary school, but also understand why critics of Public Schools place blames on teachers and the system, while giving little credit to students who do well. Particularly relevant is the maxim “follow your money”.

First, tax dollars paid by taxpaying citizens fund public schools. Nobody likes to pay taxes. Many people blame the system for inefficiencies when they are required to pay more.

The majority of Public Schools’ costs are covered by property taxes. While some funds are brought into the system by parents and private fundraising, federal, state, and local governments as well, the majority of funding comes from taxes. California saw a “taxpayer revolt” that was supported by a well-funded political campaign, which led to “The People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation” being passed. Although the law’s benefits and disadvantages can be debated forever, one fact is certain about Public Schools: Since the 1960’s, when California schools were highly ranked among the nation’s Public Schools (and still are), there has been a steady decline in public school quality since The People’s Initiative was passed. Today, 48th place is held by California’s Public Schools students in many student achievement surveys.

Masonry isn’t about arguing for or against higher taxes or taking part in the emotionally charged debate. The challenge is to understand the forces that work in favor and against Public Schools. It is not about whether or not to support Public Schools. Instead, it is about how Masonry can best do so. Masons must engage in a thoughtful discussion about Public Schools without getting caught up in the politics that are always at our fingertips. The best place to have that conversation is perhaps the Craft forum, which is free from political ambition.

The California Grand Lodge will “kick off” its strategic plan to make a significant difference in public education on April 1. Celebrations will be held at several Public School sites across the state to show that Masonry is committed to the improvement of Public Schools. Because a productive and educated middle class is essential to the survival of a free society, Masonry intends to do this. The freedoms that were first granted by the Founding Fathers will be held inviolate by enlightened citizens.

California Masons have much work to do. Without something to follow, a kick-off celebration is nothing more than a show. It’s not an effort to make a significant difference. The potential for success is high with public school advisory councils that draw on the skills and resources of Masons within their geographic boundaries. They are made up of a mixture of ages to discuss and determine how to implement the Grand Lodge’s strategic plan. Masonry works best when it can coordinate its lodges to make it a force for good. This is where the advisory councils come in.

Public school advisory councils offer a unique opportunity for California Masons. They allow members to find something meaningful with whom to make a personal pledge. Masons will learn about the opportunities to be part of changing society as they move through the stages of initiation from the First to Third Degree. The Craft has a unique opportunity to support Public Schools fraternally through its fraternal support. This gives Masons a chance to use Masonic values to help implement Masonic principles that will ensure freedom and equality for all, regardless of their station in life.

Heisner is also a California attorney who has been practicing since 1973. He is currently a trial specialist and partner in a San Diego law office where he focuses on complex business litigation, trade secrets litigation, real estate, and probate litigation. Formerly, he was an Assistant District Attorney. Deputy District Attorney. Special Assistant United States Attorney. Heisner was a criminal prosecutor and investigated and prosecuted organized crimes, public corruption, and major fraud cases.

Teacher Education and Teacher Quality

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Education is one sector that fosters national development by ensuring the growth of a functional human capital. A society with strong educational structures will be populated by educated people who can lead to positive economic progress and social change. People apply the skills they have learned in school to achieve positive social change and economic growth. These skills are made possible by one person we all call ‘teacher’. This is why nations that seek economic and social development should not overlook teachers and their importance in national development.

Students’ learning success is largely determined by their teachers. Teachers’ performance is a major factor in determining the quality and performance of students they teach. Teachers should receive the highest education possible to be able to help students in the most effective ways. The quality of teaching and teachers is a key factor in shaping the learning of students and their academic growth. Teachers who receive high-quality training will be able to manage classrooms effectively and facilitate learning. Even in countries with high student scores on international exams such as Trends In Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), teacher quality remains a concern. Teacher education is of paramount importance in these countries due to the potential it has for positive student achievements.

In almost every country, the structure of teacher education is changing to meet the needs of teachers or the demands of students. These changes are intended to ensure high quality teachers and to make sure that teachers do not leave the classroom. The U.S.A. has struggled to find ways to encourage high-quality teachers for over a decade. This has been mainly due to the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers 2015). Even though there are many teachers in Japan and other Eastern nations, structures have been established to ensure that high-quality teachers are hired and produced (Ogawa Fujii & Ikuo 2013, 2013). Teachers education is not a joke. This article is divided into two parts. The first part discusses Ghana’s teacher-education system. The second part examines some determinants for quality teaching.

2.0 TEACHER EDUCATATION

Ghana has made deliberate efforts to train quality teachers in her elementary school classrooms. Benneh (2006) stated that Ghana’s goal in teacher education is to offer a comprehensive teacher education program that includes in-service and initial teacher training. This will ensure that competent teachers are trained and qualified, which will improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools. The initial teacher education program for Ghana’s basic teachers was only offered by Colleges of Education (CoE), until recently when University of Education, University of Cape Coast and Central University College joined the ranks. One of the most striking differences between programs offered by other tertiary institutions is that, while Universities examine and award certificates to students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition, while the University of Cape Coast through the Institute of Education examines and awards certificates. These institutions offer training programs to help teachers become qualified for teaching in schools. To ensure quality, the National Accreditation Board approves teacher training programs.

The National Accreditation Board approves teacher education programs on the basis of the content and structure of the courses offered by each institution. The content and structure of courses offered by different institutions can vary. The course content at the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast may be slightly different than the content and structure of the Center for Continue Education University of Cape Coast. However, all three programs award the Diploma in Basic Education (DBE), after three years of training. The DBE and the Four year Untrained Teacher Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE), programs run by the CoEs, are similar but not identical. Similar results can be made for the two-year Post-Diploma Basic Education and four-year Bachelor’s degree programs at the University of Cape Coast, Winneba, and other Universities and University Colleges. Even though the same products may attract the same clients, the way the products are prepared is different.

These programs prepare teachers for teaching in the elementary schools, from kindergarten to senior high schools. In situations of teacher shortages, alternative pathways or programs that prepare teachers can be useful. The UTDBE program is a typical example. It is designed to provide non-professional teachers professional skills. This attempt to produce more teachers due to a shortage of teachers has the tendency to compromise quality.

Stone (2010), Xiaoxia and Heeju, Nicci, and Stone (2010) all noted that there are many factors that can contribute to teacher retention and teacher education. However, one thing teacher educators are concerned with is the alternative routes that teacher education may take. Many of these pathways are designed to quickly get teachers into teaching. These pathways have cut out the teacher preparation required for prospective teachers before they can become classroom teachers. Those who prefer alternative routes like Teach For America (TFA) have defended their alternatives by saying that, even though students are only engaged for a short time of pre-service training they are academically brilliant and have the ability to learn a lot in a very short time. Some argue that there should be an intentional opening of pathways to qualified candidates in areas like English, Science, and Mathematics, where there is often a shortage of teachers. These arguments are not in favor of alternative routes. I will be referring to the alternative teacher education program in Ghana where brilliant academic students avoid teaching.

If the goal is to fill empty classrooms, quality teacher preparation gets pushed to the sidelines. The alternative routes make it easier to gain entry into teacher education programs right at the selection stage. For example, when the second UTDBE student batch was admitted, I could confirm that the entry requirements to the CoEs had not been met. It was stressed that applicants must not be professional basic school teachers and have been employed by Ghana Education Service. It didn’t matter what grades were obtained. The CoEs wouldn’t have been able to train students who were initially not eligible for the DBE program. It leaves behind the negative effect of compromising quality.

I discovered, recently, that CoEs, in particular, do not attract candidates with high grades, even with regular DBE programs. This has a significant impact on teacher quality and teacher effectiveness, as I’ve learned. Teacher education programs in Ghana don’t have the prestige that is expected, so those with good grades aren’t encouraged to apply. The majority of applicants for teacher education programs are from lower grades. The entry requirements for the 2016/2017 CoEs DBE program were published. I noticed that the minimum entry grades for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates had been reduced from C6 to D8. CoEs attempted to attract more applicants could explain this drop in standard. To attract more applicants, universities also lower the cut-off point for their education programs. According to Levine (2006), universities see teacher education programs as money cows. To increase enrollments, their desire to make more money forces them to lower admission standards like the CoEs. In order to increase enrollments, international admission standards are lowered. The weakening of recruitment practices or the lowering standards pose a serious threat to teacher education.

Japanese teachers have made teaching and teacher education prestigious, attracting students with high grades. You could argue that Japan’s teacher supply is far greater than the demand, so there is no pressure on the authorities to hire teachers. They can still select students of higher grades into teacher education programs. This will not cause any harm to their system. They believe that issues related to teacher selection are more important than issues related to recruitment. The issues related to recruitment are important in both western and African countries. Because the demand for teachers is far greater than the supply, this is true. Teachers are not highly valued in the West and Africa. Students with very high grades are not attracted to teacher education programs. It is important to note that it is not just the recruitment process that decides whether teacher education will be highly regarded. However, high-quality candidates will ensure that teachers are able to demonstrate the qualities necessary for effective teaching. If the teaching profession is highly regarded and able to attract top-quality applicants, teacher education can be successful. Teacher education programs will not succeed if there are no incentives to attract qualified applicants or measures to improve teacher education.

Teacher preparation programs are needed to support teacher preparation. They should provide excellent teacher training and continue to support teachers for the first few years of their employment. Lumpe (2007) supports pre-service teacher education programs that ensure effective teaching strategies are understood by teachers. Effective teaching strategies should be the focus of methodology classes. No matter what the route taken, it is important that the training program be structured so that trainees are able to learn about pedagogy and the subject matter. The trainees should have enough classroom experience, including both on-campus and off campus teaching. No matter whether there is a need to fill teacher vacancies due to high teacher attrition in many countries, teacher preparation programs must aim to produce effective teachers and not just fill vacancies.

3.0 DETERMINANTS FOR TEACHER QUALITY

The quality of teachers has a huge impact on student learning. Anybody who has worked in education will tell you that teacher quality is a key component of reform efforts. Priagula Agam & Solmon (2007) identified teacher quality as an important factor in schools that has a significant impact on students’ learning. Students’ success is influenced by the quality of teachers. Students learn better when they have effective and qualified teachers. Students who have ineffective teachers experience learning declines. Teacher quality refers to continuous self-assessment to improve teaching and professional development. A teacher educator who is able to build on his/her subject-matter knowledge and pedagogy knowledge is a quality teacher.

Exemplary qualities are exhibited by outstanding teachers. They are able to teach every child with the right skills and knowledge. They provide their students with the knowledge and awareness necessary to be able to make independent and sound judgments. Here are three factors that determine teacher quality. These are pedagogical and subject-matter knowledge as well as experience.

A Brief History of Special Education

The relationship between special education and general education is perhaps the most important issue in special education. It has been a major concern in my journey as an educator. This relationship has not been easy to establish between them, as history has shown. It has been a lot more than I would like to say, pulling and pushing, when it comes down to educational policy and the educational practices and special education services provided by human educators on both sides.

Over the past 20 years, I have worked on both sides. I’ve experienced what it was like for a regular teacher to deal with special education students, their teachers and policy. I also worked on the special education side, trying to get regular educators to be more effective with my special education students by adapting their instruction and materials and showing more empathy and patience.

Additionally, I was a regular education teacher and taught regular education inclusion classes. This allowed me to learn how to work best with a new special education teacher in my classroom and their special education students. In contrast, I was a special education inclusion teacher who intruded on the territory and made suggestions for modifications that regular education teachers should make. It has not been easy to manage the special education and regular education give-and-take. This pushing and pulling is not something I can see becoming an easy task anytime soon.

What is special education? What makes special education so unique and complex? Special education is, as the name implies, a special branch of education. It is a specialized branch of education that can be traced back to Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838), who was the physician who “tamed the wild boy of Aveyron,” as well as Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), who was the teacher who “worked wonders” with Helen Keller.

Students with special needs are taught by special educators. Special educators offer instruction that is tailored to each student’s individual needs. This is how special educators make education more accessible and available to students with disabilities.

However, it’s not only teachers who have played a part in the history and development of special education in this nation. Itard- and other clergy members, such as Edouard O. Seguin (1812-1880), Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876) and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1887-1851), all wanted to improve the often neglectful and abusive treatment of persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the education system in this country was often very abusive and neglectful when it came to students who were different.

Our nation has a wealth of literature that describes how individuals with disabilities were treated in the 1800s and the early 1900s. These stories and the real world show that the disabled population was often kept in prisons and almshouses, without adequate food, clothing, or exercise.

This is illustrated by Tiny Tim, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843). People with disabilities were also often depicted as villains in many cases, as was the case in Captain Hook, J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”, 1911.

According to the authors, this was the dominant view at that time. One should accept misfortunes as a sign of obedience to God and because they are ultimately for one’s good. This way of thinking was permeating society, literature, and thinking made it difficult to make progress for people with disabilities.

What was society to do with these unfortunate people? During the 19th century and the early 20th centuries, experts believed that individuals with disabilities should be treated in rural settings. It’s a kind of out-of-sight, out of mind thing.

But, the number of institutions had exploded so much that rehabilitation for persons with disabilities was no longer possible. Institutions were used to create permanent segregation.

These segregation policies in education have been something I’ve experienced. Some of it can be good, some not so much. I’ve been a self-contained teacher for many years. This includes self-contained classrooms at public middle schools, high schools, and elementary schools. I also taught in special education behavioral self-contained schools, which completely separated troubled students with disabilities from mainstream peers. They were placed in buildings in entirely different locations from their homes, friends, and peers.

Many special education professionals have become critical of the institutions that segregated and separated our disabled children from their peers over time. Irvine Howe was the first person to advocate for removing our youth from these large institutions and placing them in families. This practice was a problem both logistically and pragmatically. It took a while before it became an option to institutionalization for students with disabilities.

On the plus side, you may be interested to know that Gallaudet established the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817. It is still in operation today and is a top school for students with hearing impairments. This is a true success story!

As you can see, the American School for the Deaf’s long-lasting success was not the norm during that time. To make matters worse, environmentalism was replaced by social Darwinism in the late nineteenth century as the primary cause of disabilities that were different from the general population.

Unfortunately, Darwinism was the catalyst for the eugenics movement in the early 20th century. This led to further segregation, and even sterilization of people with disabilities like mental retardation. It sounds like Hitler did it in Germany, but this is happening right here, in our country, to our people by our people. You wouldn’t find this inhumane and scary.

This type of treatment is unacceptable today. In the early 20th century, this was unacceptable to many adults, particularly the parents of disabled children. Parents became angry and formed advocacy groups to bring attention to the education needs of disabled children. If this was to stop, the public needed to witness firsthand how harmful this sterilization and eugenics movement was for students who were different.

Slowly, grassroots groups made progress that led to some states enacting laws to protect citizens with disabilities. In 1930, Peoria, Illinois had its first white cane ordinance. This gave blind individuals the right of way when crossing the street. It was a beginning, and many other states followed suit. Eventually, the pressure from both the local grassroots and state movements led to enough pressure on our elected representatives to make sure that something was done at the national level for people with disabilities.

John F. Kennedy established the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation in 1961. Advocate groups consider Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act to be an expansion of public education for children with disabilities. It provided funding for primary education and was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

It’s not surprising, if one considers Kennedy’s and Johnsons civil rights record, that these two presidents also led this national movement for people with disabilities.

This federal movement resulted in section 504 being added to the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. This section guarantees civil rights to the disabled when federally funded institutions are involved or any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. As an educator, I have dealt with 504 cases almost every day for the past 40 years.

1975 Congress passed Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. This law establishes a right for all children to receive public education regardless of their disability. This was another positive thing, as parents used to have to educate their children at home or to pay for private school.

This movement continued to grow. The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the extent of special education services that students with disabilities should receive in the 1982 case of the Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central Schools District v. Rowley. The Court ruled special education services could only be of some educational benefit to students. Public schools did not have to help students with disabilities achieve their educational goals.

Although this ruling might not appear like a victory today, the same question is still circulating through our courts in 2017 with the exact same question. It was, however, a victory given the time it was made. This ruling said that special education students cannot pass through our school system and not learn anything. They had to learn something. Knowing and understanding how laws work in this country will help you to understand that the laws move through small incremental steps that add up over time. Special education students won because this ruling added another rung to the crusade.

The Regular Education Initiative (REI), was established in the 1980s. This was an attempt at returning responsibility for the education students with disabilities to their local schools and regular teachers. Regular Education Initiative is something I’m familiar with because I was an REI teacher for four years in the late 1990s/early 2000s. At that time, I was both a regular and special education teacher. I was also working as an REI teacher in a dual role.

Our special education students saw significant growth in the 1990s. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was created in 1990. This was and still is the foundation of free and appropriate public education for all students. The law required that every student who received special education services be provided with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in order to ensure FAPE.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 90 extended beyond public schools. Title 3 of IDEA prohibits discrimination based on disability in public accommodation. It was expected that everyone would enjoy the same rights and privileges as others when they used public facilities, goods, services, or accommodations. Public accommodations included, of course, most educational institutions.

In the 1990s, full inclusion gained momentum. This meant that all students with disabilities should be educated in the regular classroom. This aspect of education is also something I’m familiar with, having been both a regular and special education teacher.

Let’s now turn to President Bush and his education reform, with his No Child Left Behind law. This replaced President Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The 2001 NCLB Act stated that special education should not be confined to producing results. This was accompanied by a sharp increase of accountability for teachers.