Updated Project Proposal

With this updated project proposal I hope to elaborate more on the specifics of what I plan researching compared to my original proposal. With the overarching topic–Special Education in Williamsburg as a case study for national Special Education evolution in America–I plan on interviewing knowledgeable subjects in order to understand the personal changes that have occurred as well. I hope to interview current and former Special Education teachers, members of the Williamsburg Special Education Advisory committee, and Professors at the William and Mary School of Education who focus in Special Education. While certainly the scope of my project should focus on the areas that my subjects are most familiar with, I hope to investigate some of the earliest advancements in Special Education in the 1960s to the most recent changes in 2013. Fruitful topics will hopefully illuminate the ways in which national level changes such as congressional bills and Supreme Court verdicts actually impacted classrooms in Williamsburg and teaching styles at William and Mary. So far a rough version of my timeline includes; the creation of the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped and Office of Special Education Programs in the mid 1960s, the passage of the Education for All-Handicapped Children Act in 1975 and its various amendments, the passage of Individuals With Disabilities Education Act in 1990 and its various amendments, No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. Important Supreme Court Cases include Hendrick Hudson School v. Rowley (1982), Roncker v. Walter (1983), and Honig v. Doe (1988). I am very interested in discussing the various debates in the field such as Special Education funding, the problems with I.Q. tests, the necessity of toddler and pre-school Special Education, the arguments for full inclusion, and the ways in which race and class intersect with Special Education. I hope my interviewees will be able to discuss the success and difficulties of enacting these legislations and navigating these debates. The teachers and professors will be able to discuss the ways in which particular techniques have been put to use. I certainly think my project will evolve and narrow as I continue my research and conduct interviews. Currently, I am finding plenty of information on Special Education nationally, but I am struggling to find detailed information on the history of Williamsburg education. I think my interviews will provide much of this information and my interviewees will hopefully point me in the right direction with where to find resources. They will certainly also point me in the direction as to where Special Education services could go in the future.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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