6. The History of School Speech Pathology


For school speech pathologists in 1970, the sky was about to fall. In the 1960s, in university programs for speech pathology, there was little or no talk of civil rights. That was something happening in the evening news when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus.   Or George Wallace stood in the schoolroom door.   Or police dogs attacked protesters.   The civil rights movement was not a part of speech pathology.   School speech pathologists were working on articulation and professional organizations.

The states had neglected laws to fully implement compulsory education so school speech pathologists were insulated artificially from excluded groups. “Congress found that although nearly all States had laws mandating public education for all handicapped children, there had been little or no enforcement of the mandates. H. R. REP. No. 332, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 10 (1975)” (University of Puget Sound Law Review [Vol. 7:183]). That was about to change, a change of public policy that would slam school speech pathology.

The Run up to IDEA

Excluding and improperly educating retarded children infuriated parents of retarded children. Years and years of public policy abuse of the handicapped caused deep pain.   The issue raged as a civil rights issues rage, crossing boundaries of disability, and addressing fundamental issues of education rights.   “The deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s reflected a concern for the civil rights of mentally retarded” (http://www.infoplease. com/ce6/sci/A0859577.html, 2011).

Instrumental in the movement was The ARC (http:// http://www.thearc.org/), The National Association of Retarded Citizens, according to NAPPE (Network of Advocates for Promising Practices in Education,2011).   The ARC was a part of the deinstitutionalization movement, forming in 1950.   In the 1960s it opened offices in Washington, D. C.  It became an advocacy powerhouse.


“The Arc’s memberships are key players in the enactment of Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act which guarantees a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities.”


“The Arc helps negotiate a deal with school authorities to amend the Education of the Handicapped Act to provide services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities.” 


Reading the list of accomplishments achieved by the ARC, one sees its enormous influence on the everyday practices of school speech-language pathologists since 1960. 


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