This book explores the historical origins and institutional shape
of special education across the American states. It begins with the
decade of the 1840s as states anticipated the legislation of
compulsory attendance laws. With these laws, the institutional
beginnings of special education emerge defined by the exemption of
physically and mentally handicapped youth and by the power of
schools to exclude juvenile delinquent youth as well. With the
passage of these laws states formalized the "rules of access" to a
common schooling, thereby structuring the school age population
into three segments: the common, delinquent, and special. As the
worlds of delinquency and exceptionality progressively encroached
upon public schools, their inclusion has been the central force
behind the expansion of special education; as a structure of
handicapping categories and as a professional field within
education generally. This institutional expansion of special
education has occurred over the past thirty years, and has reshaped
public education by defining the "rules of passage."
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