Globalisation And Primary Education Development In Tanzania: Prospects And Challenges

April 10th, 2021 by dayat No comments »

1. Overview of the Country and Primary Education System:
Tanzania covers 945,000 square kilometres, including approximately 60,000 square kilometres of inland water. The population is about 32 million people with an average annual growth rate of 2.8 percent per year. Females comprise 51% of the total population. The majority of the population resides on the Mainland, while the rest of the population resides in Zanzibar. The life expectancy is 50 years and the mortality rate is 8.8%. The economy depends upon Agriculture, Tourism, Manufacturing, Mining and Fishing. Agriculture contributes about 50% of GDP and accounting for about two-thirds of Tanzania’s exports. Tourism contributes 15.8%; and manufacturing, 8.1% and mining, 1.7%. The school system is a 2-7-4-2-3+ consisting of pre-primary, primary school, ordinary level secondary education, Advanced level secondary, Technical and Higher Education. Primary School Education is compulsory whereby parents are supposed to take their children to school for enrollment. The medium of instruction in primary is Kiswahili.

One of the key objectives of the first president J.K. Nyerere was development strategy for Tanzania as reflected in the 1967 Arusha Declaration, which to be ensuring that basic social services were available equitably to all members of society. In the education sector, this goal was translated into the 1974 Universal Primary Education Movement, whose goal was to make primary education universally available, compulsory, and provided free of cost to users to ensure it reached the poorest. As the strategy was implemented, large-scale increases in the numbers of primary schools and teachers were brought about through campaign-style programs with the help of donor financing. By the beginning of the 1980s, each village in Tanzania had a primary school and gross primary school enrollment reached nearly 100 percent, although the quality of education provided was not very high. From 1996 the education sector proceeded through the launch and operation of Primary Education Development Plan – PEDP in 2001 to date.

2. Globalization
To different scholars, the definition of globalization may be different. According to Cheng (2000), it may refer to the transfer, adaptation, and development of values, knowledge, technology, and behavioral norms across countries and societies in different parts of the world. The typical phenomena and characteristics associated with globalization include growth of global networking (e.g. internet, world wide e-communication, and transportation), global transfer and interflow in technological, economic, social, political, cultural, and learning areas, international alliances and competitions, international collaboration and exchange, global village, multi-cultural integration, and use of international standards and benchmarks. See also Makule (2008) and MoEC (2000).

3. Globalization in Education
In education discipline globalization can mean the same as the above meanings as is concern, but most specifically all the key words directed in education matters. Dimmock & Walker (2005) argue that in a globalizing and internalizing world, it is not only business and industry that are changing, education, too, is caught up in that new order. This situation provides each nation a new empirical challenge of how to respond to this new order. Since this responsibility is within a national and that there is inequality in terms of economic level and perhaps in cultural variations in the world, globalization seems to affect others positively and the vice versa (Bush 2005). In most of developing countries, these forces come as imposing forces from the outside and are implemented unquestionably because they do not have enough resource to ensure its implementation (Arnove 2003; Crossley & Watson, 2004).

There is misinterpretation that globalization has no much impact on education because the traditional ways of delivering education is still persisting within a national state. But, it has been observed that while globalization continues to restructure the world economy, there are also powerful ideological packages that reshape education system in different ways (Carnoy, 1999; Carnoy & Rhoten, 2002). While others seem to increase access, equity and quality in education, others affect the nature of educational management. Bush (2005) and Lauglo (1997) observe that decentralization of education is one of the global trends in the world which enable to reform educational leadership and management at different levels. They also argue that Decentralization forces help different level of educational management to have power of decision making related to the allocation of resources. Carnoy (1999) further portrays that the global ideologies and economic changes are increasingly intertwined in the international institutions that broadcast particular strategies for educational change. These include western governments, multilateral and bilateral development agencies and NGOs (Crossley & Watson 2004). Also these agencies are the ones which develop global policies and transfer them through funds, conferences and other means. Certainly, with these powerful forces education reforms and to be more specifically, the current reforms on school leadership to a large extent are influenced by globalization.

4. The School Leadership
In Tanzania the leadership and management of education systems and processes is increasingly seen as one area where improvement can and need to be made in order to ensure that education is delivered not only efficiently but also efficaciously. Although literatures for education leadership in Tanzania are inadequate, Komba in EdQual (2006) pointed out that research in various aspects of leadership and management of education, such as the structures and delivery stems of education; financing and alternative sources of support to education; preparation, nurturing and professional development of education leaders; the role of female educational leaders in improvement of educational quality; as will as the link between education and poverty eradication, are deemed necessary in approaching issues of educational quality in any sense and at any level. The nature of out of school factors that may render support to the quality of education e.g. traditional leadership institutions may also need to be looked into.

5. Impact of Globalization
As mentioned above, globalization is creating numerous opportunities for sharing knowledge, technology, social values, and behavioral norms and promoting developments at different levels including individuals, organizations, communities, and societies across different countries and cultures. Cheng (2000); Brown, (1999); Waters, (1995) pointed out the advantages of globalization as follows: Firstly it enable global sharing of knowledge, skills, and intellectual assets that are necessary to multiple developments at different levels. The second is the mutual support, supplement and benefit to produce synergy for various developments of countries, communities, and individuals. The third positive impact is creation of values and enhancing efficiency through the above global sharing and mutual support to serving local needs and growth. The fourth is the promotion of international understanding, collaboration, harmony and acceptance to cultural diversity across countries and regions. The fifth is facilitating multi-way communications and interactions, and encouraging multi-cultural contributions at different levels among countries.

The potential negative impacts of globalization are educationally concerned in various types of political, economic, and cultural colonization and overwhelming influences of advanced countries to developing countries and rapidly increasing gaps between rich areas and poor areas in different parts of the world. The first impact is increasing the technological gaps and digital divides between advanced countries and less developed countries that are hindering equal opportunities for fair global sharing. The second is creation of more legitimate opportunities for a few advanced countries to economically and politically colonize other countries globally. Thirdly is exploitation of local resources which destroy indigenous cultures of less advanced countries to benefit a few advanced countries. Fourthly is the increase of inequalities and conflicts between areas and cultures. And fifthly is the promotion of the dominant cultures and values of some advanced areas and accelerating cultural transplant from advanced areas to less developed areas.

The management and control of the impacts of globalization are related to some complicated macro and international issues that may be far beyond the scope of which I did not include in this paper. Cheng (2002) pointed out that in general, many people believe, education is one of key local factors that can be used to moderate some impacts of globalization from negative to positive and convert threats into opportunities for the development of individuals and local community in the inevitable process of globalization. How to maximize the positive effects but minimize the negative impacts of globalization is a major concern in current educational reform for national and local developments.

6. Globalization of Education and Multiple Theories
The thought of writing this paper was influenced by the multiple theories propounded by Yin Cheng, (2002). He proposed a typology of multiple theories that can be used to conceptualize and practice fostering local knowledge in globalization particularly through globalized education. These theories of fostering local knowledge is proposed to address this key concern, namely as the theory of tree, theory of crystal, theory of birdcage, theory of DNA, theory of fungus, and theory of amoeba. Their implications for design of curriculum and instruction and their expected educational outcomes in globalized education are correspondingly different.

The theory of tree assumes that the process of fostering local knowledge should have its roots in local values and traditions but absorb external useful and relevant resources from the global knowledge system to grow the whole local knowledge system inwards and outwards. The expected outcome in globalized education will be to develop a local person with international outlook, who will act locally and develop globally. The strength of this theory is that the local community can maintain and even further develop its traditional values and cultural identity as it grows and interacts with the input of external resources and energy in accumulating local knowledge for local developments.

The theory of crystal is the key of the fostering process to have “local seeds” to crystallize and accumulate the global knowledge along a given local expectation and demand. Therefore, fostering local knowledge is to accumulate global knowledge around some “local seeds” that may be to exist local demands and values to be fulfilled in these years. According to this theory, the design of curriculum and instruction is to identify the core local needs and values as the fundamental seeds to accumulate those relevant global knowledge and resources for education. The expected educational outcome is to develop a local person who remains a local person with some global knowledge and can act locally and think locally with increasing global techniques. With local seeds to crystallize the global knowledge, there will be no conflict between local needs and the external knowledge to be absorbed and accumulated in the development of local community and individuals.

The theory of birdcage is about how to avoid the overwhelming and dominating global influences on the nation or local community. This theory contends that the process of fostering local knowledge can be open for incoming global knowledge and resources but at the same time efforts should be made to limit or converge the local developments and related interactions with the outside world to a fixed framework. In globalized education, it is necessary to set up a framework with clear ideological boundaries and social norms for curriculum design such that all educational activities can have a clear local focus when benefiting from the exposure of wide global knowledge and inputs. The expected educational outcome is to develop a local person with bounded global outlook, who can act locally with filtered global knowledge. The theory can help to ensure local relevance in globalized education and avoid any loss of local identity and concerns during globalization or international exposure.

The theory of DNA represents numerous initiatives and reforms have made to remove dysfunctional local traditions and structures in country of periphery and replace them with new ideas borrowed from core countries. This theory emphasizes on identifying and transplanting the better key elements from the global knowledge to replace the existing weaker local components in the local developments. In globalizing education, the curriculum design should be very selective to both local and global knowledge with aims to choose the best elements from them. The expected educational outcome is to develop a person with locally and globally mixed elements, who can act and think with mixed local and global knowledge. The strength of this theory is its openness for any rational investigation and transplant of valid knowledge and elements without any local barrier or cultural burden. It can provide an efficient way to learn and improve the existing local practices and developments.

The theory of fungus reflects the mode of fostering local knowledge in globalization. This theory assumes that it is a faster and easier way to digest and absorb certain relevant types of global knowledge for nutrition of individual and local developments, than to create their own local knowledge from the beginning. From this theory, the curriculum and instruction should aim at enabling students to identify and learn what global knowledge is valuable and necessary to their own developments as well as significant to the local community. In globalizing education, the design of education activities should aim at digesting the complex global knowledge into appropriate forms that can feed the needs of individuals and their growth. The expected educational outcome is to develop a person equipped certain types of global knowledge, who can act and think dependently of relevant global knowledge and wisdom. Strengths of the theory is for some small countries, easily digest and absorb the useful elements of global knowledge than to produce their own local knowledge from the beginning. The roots for growth and development are based on the global knowledge instead of local culture or value.

The theory of amoeba is about the adaptation to the fasting changing global environment and the economic survival in serious international competitions. This theory considers that fostering local knowledge is only a process to fully use and accumulate global knowledge in the local context. Whether the accumulated knowledge is really local or the local values can be preserved is not a major concern. According to this theory, the curriculum design should include the full range of global perspectives and knowledge to totally globalize education in order to maximize the benefit from global knowledge and become more adaptive to changing environment. Therefore, to achieve broad international outlook and apply global knowledge locally and globally is crucial in education. And, cultural burdens and local values can be minimized in the design of curriculum and instruction in order to let students be totally open for global learning. The expected educational outcome is to develop a flexible and open person without any local identity, who can act and think globally and fluidly. The strengths of this theory are also its limitations particularly in some culturally fruit countries. There will be potential loss of local values and cultural identity in the country and the local community will potentially lose its direction and social solidarity during overwhelming globalization.

Each country or local community may have its unique social, economic and cultural contexts and therefore, its tendency to using one theory or a combination of theories from the typology in globalized education may be different from the other. To a great extent, it is difficult to say one is better than other even though the theories of tree, birdcage and crystal may be more preferred in some culturally rich countries. For those countries with less cultural assets or local values, the theories of amoeba and fungus may be an appropriate choice for development. However, this typology can provide a wide spectrum of alternatives for policy-makers and educators to conceptualize and formulate their strategies and practices in fostering local knowledge for the local developments. See more about the theories in Cheng (2002; 11-18)

7. Education Progress since Independence in Tanzania
During the first phase of Tanzania political governance (1961-1985) the Arusha Declaration, focusing on “Ujamaa” (African socialism) and self-reliance was the major philosophy. The nationalization of the production and provision of goods and services by the state and the dominance of ruling party in community mobilization and participation highlighted the “Ujamaa” ideology, which dominated most of the 1967-1985 eras. In early 1970s, the first phase government embarked on an enormous national campaign for universal access to primary education, of all children of school going age. It was resolved that the nation should have attained universal primary education by 1977. The ruling party by that time Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), under the leadership of the former and first president of Tanzania Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, directed the government to put in place mechanisms for ensuring that the directive, commonly known as the Musoma Resolution, was implemented. The argument behind that move was essentially that, as much as education was a right to each and every citizen, a government that is committed to the development of an egalitarian socialist society cannot segregate and discriminate her people in the provision of education, especially at the basic level.

7.1. The Presidential Commission on Education
In 1981, a Presidential Commission on education was appointed to review the existing system of education and propose necessary changes to be realized by the country towards the year 2000. The Commission submitted its report in March 1982 and the government has implemented most of its recommendation. The most significant ones related to this paper were the establishment of the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC), the Tanzania Professional Teachers Association, the introduction of new curriculum packages at primary, secondary and teacher education levels, the establishment of the Faculty of Education (FoE) at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, the introduction of pre-primary teacher education programme; and the expansion of secondary education.

7.2. Education during the Second Phase Government of Tanzania
The second phase government of Tanzania spanning from 1985 to 1995, was characterized by new liberal ideas such as free choice, market-oriented schooling and cost efficiency, reduced the government control of the UPE and other social services. The education sector lacked quality teachers as well as teaching/learning materials and infrastructure to address the expansion of the UPE. A vacuum was created while fragmented donor driven projects dominated primary education support. The introduced cost sharing in the provision of social services like education and health hit most the poorest of the poor. This decrease in government support in the provision of social services including education as well as cost-sharing policies were not taken well, given that most of the incomes were below the poverty line. In 1990, the government constituted a National Task Force on education to review the existing education system and recommend a suitable education system for the 21st century.

The report of this task force, the Tanzania Education System for the 21st Century, was submitted to the government in November 1992. Recommendations of the report have been taken into consideration in the formulation of the Tanzania Education and Training Policy (TETP). In spite of the very impressive expansionary education policies and reforms in the 1970s, the goal to achieve UPE, which was once targeted for achievement in 1980, is way out of reach. Similarly, the Jomtien objective to achieve Basic Education for all in 2000 is on the part of Tanzania unrealistic. The participation and access level have declined to the point that attainment of UPE is once again an issue in itself. Other developments and trends indicate a decline in the quantitative goals set rather than being closer to them (Cooksey and Reidmiller, 1997; Mbilinyi, 2000). At the same time serious doubt is being raised about school quality and relevance of education provided (Galabawa, Senkoro and Lwaitama, (eds), 2000).

7.3. Outcomes of UPE
According to Galabawa (2001), the UPE describing, analysis and discussing explored three measures in Tanzania: (1) the measure of access to first year of primary education namely, the apparent intake rate. This is based on the total number of new entrants in the first grade regardless of age. This number is in turn expressed as a percentage of the population at the official primary school entrance age and the net intake rate based on the number of new entrants in the first grade who are of the official primary school entrance age expressed as percentage of the population of corresponding age. (2) The measure of participation, namely, gross enrolment ratio representing the number of children enrolled in primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the official primary school age population; while the net enrolment ratio corresponds to the number of children of the official primary school age enrolled in primary school expressed as a percentage of corresponding population. (3) The measure of internal efficiency of education system, which reflect the dynamics of different operational decision making events over the school cycle like dropouts, promotions and repetitions.

7.3.1. Access to Primary Education
The absolute numbers of new entrants to grade one of primary school cycles have grown steadily since 1970s. The number of new entrants increased from around 400,000 in 1975 to 617,000 in 1990 and to 851,743 in 2000, a rise of 212.9 percent in relative terms. The apparent (gross) intake rate was high at around 80% in the 1970s dropping to 70% in 1975 and rise up to 77% in 2000. This level reflects the shortcomings in primary education provision. Tanzania is marked by wide variations in both apparent and net intake rates-between urban and rural districts with former performing higher. Low intake rates in rural areas reflect the fact that many children do not enter schools at the official age of seven years.

7.3.2. Participation in Primary Education
The regression in the gross and net primary school enrolment ratios; the exceptionally low intake at secondary and vocational levels; and, the general low internal efficiency of the education sector have combined to create a UPE crisis in Tanzania’s education system (Education Status Report, 2001). There were 3,161,079 primary pupils in Tanzania in 1985 and, in the subsequent decade primary enrolment rose dramatically by 30% to 4,112,167 in 1999. These absolute increases were not translated into gross/net enrolment rates, which actually experienced a decline threatening the sustainability of quantitative gains. The gross enrolment rate, which was 35.1% in late 1960′s and early 1970s’, grew appreciably to 98.0% in 1980 when the net enrolment rate was 68%. (ibid)

7.3.3. Internal Efficiency in Primary Education
The input/output ratio shows that it takes an average of 9.4 years (instead of planned 7 years) for a pupil to complete primary education. The extra years are due to starting late, drop-outs, repetition and high failure rate which is pronounced at standard four where a competency/mastery examination is administered (ESDP, 1999, p.84). The drive towards UPE has been hampered by high wastage rates.

7.4. Education during the Third Phase Government of Tanzania
The third phase government spanning the period from 1995 to date, intends to address both income and non-income poverty so as to generate capacity for provision and consumption of better social services. In order to address these income and non-income poverty the government formed the Tanzania Vision 2025. Vision 2025 targets at high quality livelihood for all Tanzanians through the realization of UPE, the eradication of illiteracy and the attainment of a level of tertiary education and training commensurate with a critical mass of high quality human resources required to effectively respond to the developmental challenges at all level. In order to revitalize the whole education system the government established the Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP) in this period. Within the ESDP, there two education development plans already in implementation, namely: (a) The Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP); and (b) The Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP).

8. Prospects and Challenges of Primary of Education Sector
Since independence, The government has recognised the central role of education in achieving the overall development goal of improving the quality of life of Tanzanians through economic growth and poverty reduction. Several policies and structural reforms have been initiated by the Government to improve the quality of education at all levels. These include: Education for Self-Reliance, 1967; Musoma Resolution, 1974; Universal Primary Education (UPE), 1977; Education and Training Policy (ETP), 1995; National Science and Technology Policy, 1995; Technical Education and Training Policy, 1996; Education Sector Development Programme, 1996 and National Higher Education Policy, 1999. The ESDP of 1996 represented for the first time a Sector-Wide Approach to education development to redress the problem of fragmented interventions. It called for pooling together of resources (human, financial and materials) through the involvement of all key stakeholders in education planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation (URT, 1998 quoted in MoEC 2005b). The Local Government Reform Programme (LGRP) provided the institutional framework.

Challenges include the considerable shortage of classrooms, a shortage of well qualified and expert teachers competent to lead their learners through the new competency based curriculum and learning styles, and the absence of an assessment and examination regime able to reinforce the new approaches and reward students for their ability to demonstrate what they know understand and can do. At secondary level there is a need to expand facilities necessary as a result of increased transition rates. A major challenge is the funding gap, but the government is calling on its development partners to honour the commitments made at Dakar, Abuja, etc, to respond positively to its draft Ten Year Plan. A number of systemic changes are at a critical stage, including decentralisation, public service reform, strengthening of financial management and mainstreaming of ongoing project and programmes. The various measures and interventions introduced over the last few years have been uncoordinated and unsynchronised. Commitment to a sector wide approach needs to be accompanied by careful attention to secure coherence and synergy across sub-sectoral elements. (Woods, 2007).

9. Education and School Leadership in Tanzania and the Impacts
Education and leadership in primary education sector in Tanzania has passed through various periods as explained in the stages above. The school leadership major reformation was maintained and more decentralized in the implementation of the PEDP from the year 2000 to date. This paper is also more concerned with the implementation of globalization driven policies that influence the subjectivity of education changes. It is changing to receive what Tjeldvoll et al. (2004:1; quoted in Makule, 2008) considers as “the new managerial responsibilities”. These responsibilities are focused to increase accountability, equity and quality in education which are global agenda, because it is through these, the global demands in education will be achieved. In that case school leadership in Tanzania has changed. The change observed is due to the implementation of decentralization of both power and fund to the low levels such as schools. School leadership now has more autonomy over the resources allocated to school than it was before decentralization. It also involves community in all the issues concerning the school improvement.

10. Prospects and Challenges of School Leadership

10.1. Prospects
The decentralization of both power and funds from the central level to the low level of education such as school and community brought about various opportunities. Openness, community participation and improved efficiency mentioned as among the opportunities obtained with the current changes on school leadership. There is improved accountability, capacity building and educational access to the current changes on school leadership. This is viewed in strong communication network established in most of the schools in the country. Makule (2008) in her study found out that the network was effective where every head teacher has to send to the district various school reports such as monthly report, three month report, half a year report, nine month report and one year report. In each report there is a special form in which a head teacher has to feel information about school. The form therefore, give account of activities that takes place at school such as information about the uses of the funds and the information about attendance both teacher and students, school buildings, school assets, meetings, academic report, and school achievement and problems encountered. The effect of globalization forces on school leadership in Tanzania has in turn forced the government to provide training and workshop for school leadership (MoEC, 2005b). The availability of school leadership training, whether through workshop or training course, considered to be among the opportunities available for school leadership in Tanzania

10.2. Challenges

Education tender

April 10th, 2021 by dayat No comments »

Perhaps the largest and most pervasive issue in special education, as well as my own journey in education, is special education’s relationship to general education. History has shown that this has never been an easy clear cut relationship between the two. There has been a lot of giving and taking or maybe I should say pulling and pushing when it comes to educational policy, and the educational practices and services of education and special education by the human educators who deliver those services on both sides of the isle, like me.

Over the last 20+ years I have been on both sides of education. I have seen and felt what it was like to be a regular main stream educator dealing with special education policy, special education students and their specialized teachers. I have also been on the special education side trying to get regular education teachers to work more effectively with my special education students through modifying their instruction and materials and having a little more patience and empathy.

Furthermore, I have been a mainstream regular education teacher who taught regular education inclusion classes trying to figure out how to best work with some new special education teacher in my class and his or her special education students as well. And, in contrast, I have been a special education inclusion teacher intruding on the territory of some regular education teachers with my special education students and the modifications I thought these teachers should implement. I can tell you first-hand that none of this give and take between special education and regular education has been easy. Nor do I see this pushing and pulling becoming easy anytime soon.

So, what is special education? And what makes it so special and yet so complex and controversial sometimes? Well, special education, as its name suggests, is a specialized branch of education. It claims its lineage to such people as Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838), the physician who “tamed” the “wild boy of Aveyron,” and Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), the teacher who “worked miracles” with Helen Keller.

Special educators teach students who have physical, cognitive, language, learning, sensory, and/or emotional abilities that deviate from those of the general population. Special educators provide instruction specifically tailored to meet individualized needs. These teachers basically make education more available and accessible to students who otherwise would have limited access to education due to whatever disability they are struggling with.

It’s not just the teachers though who play a role in the history of special education in this country. Physicians and clergy, including Itard- mentioned above, Edouard O. Seguin (1812-1880), Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), wanted to ameliorate the neglectful, often abusive treatment of individuals with disabilities. Sadly, education in this country was, more often than not, very neglectful and abusive when dealing with students that are different somehow.

There is even a rich literature in our nation that describes the treatment provided to individuals with disabilities in the 1800s and early 1900s. Sadly, in these stories, as well as in the real world, the segment of our population with disabilities were often confined in jails and almshouses without decent food, clothing, personal hygiene, and exercise.

For an example of this different treatment in our literature one needs to look no further than Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843). In addition, many times people with disabilities were often portrayed as villains, such as in the book Captain Hook in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” in 1911.

The prevailing view of the authors of this time period was that one should submit to misfortunes, both as a form of obedience to God’s will, and because these seeming misfortunes are ultimately intended for one’s own good. Progress for our people with disabilities was hard to come by at this time with this way of thinking permeating our society, literature and thinking.

So, what was society to do about these people of misfortune? Well, during much of the nineteenth century, and early in the twentieth, professionals believed individuals with disabilities were best treated in residential facilities in rural environments. An out of sight out of mind kind of thing, if you will…

However, by the end of the nineteenth century the size of these institutions had increased so dramatically that the goal of rehabilitation for people with disabilities just wasn’t working. Institutions became instruments for permanent segregation.

I have some experience with these segregation policies of education. Some of it is good and some of it is not so good. You see, I have been a self-contained teacher on and off throughout the years in multiple environments in self-contained classrooms in public high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. I have also taught in multiple special education behavioral self-contained schools that totally separated these troubled students with disabilities in managing their behavior from their mainstream peers by putting them in completely different buildings that were sometimes even in different towns from their homes, friends and peers.

Over the years many special education professionals became critics of these institutions mentioned above that separated and segregated our children with disabilities from their peers. Irvine Howe was one of the first to advocate taking our youth out of these huge institutions and to place out residents into families. Unfortunately this practice became a logistical and pragmatic problem and it took a long time before it could become a viable alternative to institutionalization for our students with disabilities.

Now on the positive side, you might be interested in knowing however that in 1817 the first special education school in the United States, the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (now called the American School for the Deaf), was established in Hartford, Connecticut, by Gallaudet. That school is still there today and is one of the top schools in the country for students with auditory disabilities. A true success story!

However, as you can already imagine, the lasting success of the American School for the Deaf was the exception and not the rule during this time period. And to add to this, in the late nineteenth century, social Darwinism replaced environmentalism as the primary causal explanation for those individuals with disabilities who deviated from those of the general population.

Sadly, Darwinism opened the door to the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century. This then led to even further segregation and even sterilization of individuals with disabilities such as mental retardation. Sounds like something Hitler was doing in Germany also being done right here in our own country, to our own people, by our own people. Kind of scary and inhumane, wouldn’t you agree?

Today, this kind of treatment is obviously unacceptable. And in the early part of the 20th Century it was also unacceptable to some of the adults, especially the parents of these disabled children. Thus, concerned and angry parents formed advocacy groups to help bring the educational needs of children with disabilities into the public eye. The public had to see firsthand how wrong this this eugenics and sterilization movement was for our students that were different if it was ever going to be stopped.

Slowly, grassroots organizations made progress that even led to some states creating laws to protect their citizens with disabilities. For example, in 1930, in Peoria, Illinois, the first white cane ordinance gave individuals with blindness the right-of-way when crossing the street. This was a start, and other states did eventually follow suit. In time, this local grassroots’ movement and states’ movement led to enough pressure on our elected officials for something to be done on the national level for our people with disabilities.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation. And in 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provided funding for primary education, and is seen by advocacy groups as expanding access to public education for children with disabilities.

When one thinks about Kennedy’s and Johnson’s record on civil rights, then it probably isn’t such a surprise finding out that these two presidents also spearheaded this national movement for our people with disabilities.

This federal movement led to section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. This guarantees civil rights for the disabled in the context of federally funded institutions or any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. All these years later as an educator, I personally deal with 504 cases every single day.

In 1975 Congress enacted Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), which establishes a right to public education for all children regardless of disability. This was another good thing because prior to federal legislation, parents had to mostly educate their children at home or pay for expensive private education.

The movement kept growing. In the 1982 the case of the Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the level of services to be afforded students with special needs. The Court ruled that special education services need only provide some “educational benefit” to students. Public schools were not required to maximize the educational progress of students with disabilities.

Today, this ruling may not seem like a victory, and as a matter of fact, this same question is once again circulating through our courts today in 2017. However, given the time period it was made in, it was a victory because it said special education students could not pass through our school system without learning anything. They had to learn something. If one knows and understands how the laws work in this country, then one knows the laws always progress through tiny little increments that add up to progress over time. This ruling was a victory for special education students because it added one more rung onto the crusade.

In the 1980s the Regular Education Initiative (REI) came into being. This was an attempt to return responsibility for the education of students with disabilities to neighborhood schools and regular classroom teachers. I am very familiar with Regular Education Initiative because I spent four years as an REI teacher in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At this time I was certified as both a special education teacher and a regular education teacher and was working in both capacities in a duel role as an REI teacher; because that’s what was required of the position.

The 1990s saw a big boost for our special education students. 1990 birthed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This was, and is, the cornerstone of the concept of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for all of our students. To ensure FAPE, the law mandated that each student receiving special education services must also receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 reached beyond just the public schools. And Title 3 of IDEA prohibited disability-based discrimination in any place of public accommodation. Full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations in public places were expected. And of course public accommodations also included most places of education.

Also, in the 1990s the full inclusion movement gained a lot of momentum. This called for educating all students with disabilities in the regular classroom. I am also very familiar with this aspect of education as well, as I have also been an inclusion teacher from time to time over my career as an educator on both sides of the isle as a regular education teacher and a special education teacher.

Now on to President Bush and his educational reform with his No Child Left Behind law that replaced President Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The NCLB Act of 2001 stated that special education should continue to focus on producing results and along with this came a sharp increase in accountability for educators.

Now, this NCLB Act was good and bad. Of course we all want to see results for all of our students, and it’s just common sense that accountability helps this sort of thing happen. Where this kind of went crazy was that the NCLB demanded a host of new things, but did not provide the funds or support to achieve these new objectives.

Furthermore, teachers began feeling squeezed and threatened more and more by the new movement of big business and corporate education moving in and taking over education. People with no educational background now found themselves influencing education policy and gaining access to a lot of the educational funds.

This accountability craze stemmed by excessive standardized testing ran rapid and of course ran downstream from a host of well-connected elite Trump-like figures saying to their lower echelon educational counterparts, “You’re fired!” This environment of trying to stay off of the radar in order to keep one’s job, and beating our kids over the head with testing strategies, wasn’t good for our educators. It wasn’t good for our students. And it certainly wasn’t good for our more vulnerable special education students.

Some good did come from this era though. For example, the updated Individuals with Disabilities with Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) happened. This further required schools to provide individualized or special education for children with qualifying disabilities. Under the IDEA, states who accept public funds for education must provide special education to qualifying children with disabilities. Like I said earlier, the law is a long slow process of tiny little steps adding up to progress made over time.

Finally, in 2015 President Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced President Bush’s NCLB, which had replaced President Johnson’s ESEA. Under Obama’s new ESSA schools were now allowed to back off on some of the testing. Hopefully, the standardized testing craze has been put in check. However, only time will tell. ESSA also returned to more local control. You know, the kind of control our forefathers intended.

You see the U.S. Constitution grants no authority over education to the federal government. Education is not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, and for good reason. The Founders wanted most aspects of life managed by those who were closest to them, either by state or local government or by families, businesses, and other elements of civil society. Basically, they saw no role for the federal government in education.

You see, the Founders feared the concentration of power. They believed that the best way to protect individual freedom and civil society was to limit and divide power. However, this works both ways, because the states often find themselves asking the feds for more educational money. And the feds will only give the states additional money if the states do what the feds want… Hmm… Checks and balances, as well as compromise can be a really tricky thing, huh?

So on goes the battle in education and all the back and forth pushing and pulling between the federal government and the states and local government, as well as special education and regular education. And to add to this struggle, recently Judge Moukawsher, a state judge from Connecticut, in a lawsuit filed against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, rocked the educational boat some more when in his ruling he included a message to lawmakers to reassess what level of services students with significant disabilities are entitled to.

His ruling and statements appear to say that he thinks we’re spending too much money on our special education students. And that for some of them, it just isn’t worth it because their disabilities are too severe. You can imagine how controversial this was and how much it angered some people.

The 2016 United States Presidential election resulted in something that few people saw coming. Real Estate mogul and reality star Donald Trump won the presidency and then appointed anti-public educator Betsy Devos to head up this country’s Department of Education. Her charge, given to her by Trump, is to drastically slash the Department of Education, and to push forward private charter schools over what they call a failing public educational system.

How this is going to affect our students, and especially our more vulnerable special education students, nobody knows for sure at this time. But, I can also tell you that there aren’t many people out there that feel comfortable with it right now. Only time will tell where this is all going to go and how it will affect our special education students…

So, as I said earlier, perhaps the largest, most pervasive issue in