Denied Access to Education

So, along with 21 years of being a parent of a child with disability, I also have my Masters in Disability Studies with an emphasis in disability ministry. I mention this not to brag but because while studying I learned about the history of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Originally, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), in 1975 “to support states and localities in protecting the rights of, meeting the individual needs of, and improving the results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families.” The law’s name changed to IDEA in 1990.

I find it hard to believe that prior to EHA, the vast majority of children, like my son Micah, were denied access to education and opportunities to learn. “In 1970, U.S. schools educated only one in five children with disabilities, and many states had laws excluding certain students, including children who were deaf, blind, emotionally disturbed, or had an intellectual disability.”

Since enacting EHA in 1975, major changes have been made to meet national goals for developing and implementing effective programs and services for early intervention, special education, and related services. Before EHA, the U.S. excluded nearly 1.8 million children with disabilities from public schools. The latest stats from 2018-19 school year show that more than 7.5 million children with disabilities are receiving special education and related services designed to meet their individual needs.

We’ve made some serious progress in the schools since 1975. Now it’s time for the church to make some major changes to include individuals with disabilities and their families. After all, shouldn’t the church be the most accessible place on the planet? We would love to help you implement change.

Making Jesus accessible,

Joe Butler

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