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IDEA Then and Now: A Game Changer

Categories: Learning Disabilities, Public Policy/Advocacy

When President Gerald Ford affixed his signature to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, it was a true game changer for millions of students. We salute the educators, parents and students who uphold its promise each day. Monday, November 29 marked the 35th anniversary of this landmark legislation, originally called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142). Up until that time, schools routinely excluded students with disabilities, letting their vast talents and skills go fallow rather than cultivating their abilities into full bloom. Since that day, the world of education has changed radically. IDEA will continue to be the greatest tool for students with disabilities to ensure they receive the free and appropriate public education they deserve. Today, nearly six million students from six to 21 years old are being educated under the auspices of IDEA, each with an individually designed plan for his or her development, growth and education. More than 60 percent of these students spend more than three-quarters of their school day in a general education classroom. These changes are worlds away from the realities of the pre-IDEA days, when most students with disabilities were segregated, stigmatized and stunted. IDEA, which is due to be reauthorized, has been and will continue to be the greatest tool for students with disabilities, their parents, and advocates to ensure they receive the free and appropriate public education they deserve. On this anniversary we salute the educators, parents and students who make this a reality each day. IDEA is one of many momentous steps our nation has taken to ensure the promise of our founding is delivered to all.
President Ford greets RFB&D founder Anne Macdonald
RFB&D is proud of our contribution to this effort through the services and accessible materials we have provided to hundreds of thousands of students for more than six decades, and we are humbled by the reality of the great need that is still to be met. Join us in celebrating this milestone and in rededicating ourselves to the great work that still needs to be done.
  Photo above: President Gerald Ford greets Anne T. Macdonald, the founder of RFB&D, at our National Achievement Awards ceremony in Washington DC. Below: First Lady Betty Ford hosting NAA winners at the White House. Betty Ford with RFB&D National Achievement Award winners

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