During the 2012- 2013 academic school year, in the North shore school district , 2660 students with disabilities were served by Special Education services, and 5.4% of the student population were classified as English Language Learners in the State of Washington (Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction). Understanding the basic foundation and history of special education and English language development programs, can assist an educator, in serving the needs of a diversified classroom.
According to the Federal Government, special education is composed of three major pieces. First, the unique needs of a student with a disability, must be met through individualized instruction, with no cost to the parent/guardian(s). Second, special education must include related services, which are defined as various types of support that, assist students with disabilities access education. In other words, a related service makes education accessible to students with disabilities (e.g. school bus with a wheelchair lift, an elevator, wheelchair ramp, etc.) (Friend, 2014, p. 5). And finally, students with disabilities must be given access to supplementary aids and services, an example of a supplementary aid or service is computer software that transcribes a lecture, an ASL interpreter, etc. (Friend, 2014, p7).
Special education is the vehicle through which students with disabilities receive an individualized education, and ensure the supports are in place for the student to reach their full learning potential. In the same regard, English language development programs support English Language Learners (ELL) so they don’t fall behind in their general education while acquiring English proficiency. To further understand English language program development and special education we must look at the legal history that has shaped and defined these programs.
In Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of students based on color, was a form of inequity and immediate desegregation was ordered. This ruling also, began to challenge the educational policies that were in place, in regards to students with disabilities and non- English speakers; was segregation the appropriate educational setting for these students (Nieto, 2009, p 63). In 1964, the Civil Rights Act, Title VI, stated that no person shall be denied access to federally funded programs or activities, based on color, race, or national origin. The Civil Rights Act, places a major role in that it guarantees education rights to all students regardless of disability, color, race, or English proficiency, school districts that did not comply with desegregation, were withheld from receiving federal funding (WestED, 1997, p. 26).
Another law that is considered to be important to English language development programs, is the Bilingual Education Act. English development programs were not mandated by this law, but it did provide...