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We have seen tremendous progress over the past 25 years -- students with disabilities are graduating from high school completing college and entering the competitive workforce in record numbers -- and we must continue this progress over the next 25 years and beyond President William Jefferson Clinton November 29 2000 The above quote was in in my opinion the most accurate and profound statement made by our former president in all eight years in office The credit for the tremendous progress is given to Congress for the enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 Public Law 94-142 This act was designed 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 Several years and many amendments later it was enacted under the acronym IDEA the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 Turnball Turnball Shank Leal 1999 In my opinion I think that IDEA has made a marked improvement in the education programs for all students Before the enactment of Public Law 94-142 the fate of many individuals with disabilities was likely to be dim Too many individuals lived in state institutions for persons with mental retardation or mental illness In 1967 for example state institutions were homes for almost 200000 persons with significant disabilities CEC 2000 Many of these restrictive settings provided only minimal food clothing and shelter Too often persons with disabilities such as Allan see story below were merely accommodated rather than assessed educated and rehabilitated Allan was left as an infant on the steps of an institution for persons with mental retardation in the late 1940s By age 35 he had become blind and was frequently observed sitting in a corner of the room slapping his heavily callused face as he rocked back and forth humming to himself In the
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