Secretary Duncan, Assistant Secretary Posny to Address 35th Anniversary Celebration of Special Education Law

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will address a celebration recognizing the 35th anniversary of the law now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — the landmark civil rights measure which today provides America's 6.6 million children and youth with disabilities with the right to a free appropriate public education.

The event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday in the Kennedy Caucus Room, 325 Russell Senate Office Building at the U.S. Capitol.

It was Nov. 29, 1975, when then-President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142). At the time, nearly 1.8 million youth with disabilities were excluded from public schools. Three decades later, almost 60 percent of students with disabilities spend 80 percent or more of their school day in general education classrooms alongside their nondisabled peers.

Secretary Duncan will discuss the progress that has been made in special education during the past 35 years. Also delivering comments will be members of Congress, along with Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, and Melody Barnes, domestic policy advisor to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Following the remarks, two panels will review the evolution of IDEA — one, which will include special education experts and the other panel, comprised of students and adults with disabilities.