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Professor Adam R. Nelson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison delivered his second in a series of excellent lectures.

Date: 2011-05-31       Visitcount: 1960

    On May 20th, Professor Adam R. Nelson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison delivered a lecture on special education for the disabled in the US and bilingual education for non-English-speaking children. The lecture was held in the Tian Jiabing 228 meeting room. This was the second lecture in his lecture series on the equity of American educational opportunity. Professor Song Gilsun chaired this lecture.

    The first part of the lecture was “A Brief History of Special Education for The Disabled.” Professor Nelson stated that early on in American history disabled children were excluded from public school. The National Association for Retarded Children was founded in 1950 and disabled children were enrolled in public schools but placed in separate classrooms during the 1950s and 1960s. Later, through a series of lawsuits and the debates of defining and diagnosing disabilities, disabled children were permitted into regular classrooms, and the accompanying result was that the education financial burden increased. Finally, The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was issued and aroused a debate about “What constitutes an appropriate education?” Professor Nelson utilized lawsuits and in-depth analysis to help audience members understand the problem clearly.

    The second part of the lecture was “The Ongoing Debate over Bilingual Education.” Professor Nelson stated that the public schools gradually accepted immigrant children and mandated English from the 18th century to the 1950s. Later, the types and number of immigrants gradually increased, which resulted in an urgent demand for bilingual education. The Bilingual Education Act issued in 1968 required Federal aid for voluntary programs to teach English to all non-English-speakers. But it became mandatory in 1970. The lawsuits, Lau v. Nichols and Diana v. Board of Education (1970), led to the debate about“What is the measure of a meaningful education?” The Rios v. Reed(1977)and Castaneda v. Pickard(1981)cases also impelled people to think non-English-speaking children and how to avoid segregation under special programs. Professor Nelson explored and analyzed the ruling results. He also introduced his book, The Elusive Ideal: Equal Educational Opportunity and the Federal Role in Boston’s Public Schools, 1950-1985, which contained all of the views in his lectures.


    After the lecture, Professor Nelson further discussed issues related to equal education. Professor Nelson’s unique perspective was appreciated by all who attended the lectures. He presented many clear and interesting ideas. We look forward to reading his book.

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