21. The History of School Speech Pathology

Transition to Washington, D. C.

Guided by Dr. George Kopp, The American Speech and Hearing Association planned its move from Detroit to Washington, D. C., where old bones were a-mouldering for the rights of American school children. Whereas now a small frenzy of organizational activity was in progress, the Supreme Court quietly settled Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka (1954) unanimously.  In 1960, The ARC, a grass-roots organization from the Midwest, opened a Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., where it advocated for the rights of the handicapped. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending Jim Crow laws was just around the corner. Indians were allowed out of boarding schools.


Dr. Kopp


In 1936, Dr. George Kopp “…came to Detroit to develop a program to prepare clinicians and public school teachers of speech correction at Teachers College, which later became Wayne State University.” 




From 1943 through 1946 he worked at Bell Laboratories. He and his wife, Harriet Green Kopp, along with Ralph Potter, published Visible Speech, a well-know project to make speech visible to the deaf. 


In 1946, Dr. Kopp was listed as a member of the American Speech Correction Association.  He was a founding member.  In 1947, he served as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer and carried these duties until 1959.  He took over the duties of D. W. Morris of The Ohio State University with expanded responsibilities.  Both men were treasurers indicating revenue collection and dispersal.


Executive Secretary


Serving 12 years, Dr. Kopp was the first executive director of the modern profession in one of the most vital periods of history. The war had ended and the economic times supported growth of government and education. The American Speech Correction Association had bylaws. It was time to create a national plan for coordination and public acceptance of the revamped speech organization.


Dr. Kopp was instrumental in setting up many organizational structures. In 1955 department accreditation standards were in place. Through a change in membership requirements, clinical certification was ushered in in 1952 (Bernthal, 2007).


There was rapid growth of academic departments moving forward into the 1960s:


“The University of Kansas Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders was established in 1955, and became the first program in the country to receive accreditation in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from the Council in Academic Accreditation” (http:// www2.ku.edu/~splh/ipcd/).  


At Truman University: “The major of Communication Disorders at Truman dates back to 1960, when students received a Bachelor of Science in Speech Correction.”  


In 1960 the program was started at University of Wisconsin -EAU Claire.


National Office


With Dr. Kopp’s leadership, the National Office of The American Speech and Hearing Association opened on January 1, 1958, in Washington, D.C., at 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, in Washington, D.C. ASHA rented two rooms.  Dr. Kenneth O. Johnson became Executive Director. Wayne State University was the last department to host ASHA administratively. Association business was conducted from the Detroit campus. Before then, the ASHA offices had been at The Ohio 
State University. 


In 1959, George Kopp was elected first president of ASHA. 




During Dr. Kopp’s time, there were membership accommodations to allow speech correction teachers to participate in ASHA but the loss of capacity, revenue and opportunity persisted.  With certification came the imprint of the medical model enforced by the professional cartel. Suppose you liked educational speech correction and did not believe the medical model fit school contexts?  You were stuck! Henry Ford when he presented his famous Model T, said: “You can have any color as long as it is black.” 


In the absence of differing viewpoints, the medical model was institutionalized in ASHA structures. When a new department was accredited, the standards to be followed assumed the medical model. Students of the founders fanned out to open new departments.  In Dr. Kopp’s era, there was nothing like language in the mix of academic courses and clinics. It was all about speech, hearing and pathology.


We do not know how much was lost in capacity when the foundations of school practice were suspended by the strong opinions of a small cadre of men with extremely narrow views of human communication. In fact, the disorder of stuttering had more impetus than articulation.  It took Charles Van Riper to bring its importance into focus. Later, when he attended ASHA conferences, school SLPs gave him a standing ovation. He was a hero for those who hungered for relevant child approaches.


Time was lost in recreating the lost organizational structures, and the alternate structures did not prepare school SLPs for IDEA legislation as well as the lost structures might have.


When language and cognitive science was broached in the 1970s, the resistance was more than that of content endorsement. It was implicitly a challenge to the original medical model.  By this time, ASHA members had no cultural memory nor understanding of the submerged issues. 





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