The Regular Education Initiative: The Roots of Inclusion
Child with pencil Photo courtesy Ann Marsden

In 1986, however, there was a major shift in the way educators began to think about special education and general education.

Madeleine Will was Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education. She was (and is) also the mother of Jon Will who at the time was a teenager with Down syndrome. She brought a new perspective to the federal government and built on the ground work laid in the late 1970s and early 1980s for more and more students to be educated in regular classrooms.

Madeleine Will raised concerns about some unintended negative effects of special education "pull out" programs. "Pull out programs" refer to resource rooms and special class placements. She noted that, in the ten years since P. L. 94-142, there had been little change in the distribution of students along the continuum.