Barbara D. Bateman
Barbara D. Bateman, known for having had two influential trajectories in special education, passed away 15 April 2022 in Creswell, Oregon. Early in her academic career, she focused on assessment and instruction for children with disabilities, especially learning disabilities. Later, she used her legal training to advocate for children with disabilities and their parents.
Born in 1933 in Medford, Oregon, to Vivian C. Bateman and G. Charles Bateman, Barb was the eldest of three siblings. Her father ran a local store and farmed; her mother was a school principal. She grew up enjoying the natural world of animals, plants, waterways, and family.
After briefly attending Reed College and the University of Oregon, Barb studied psychology at the University of Washington, where she completed a bachelors degree in 1954. She then taught children with various disabilities before she completed a masters degree in 1958 in special education at San Fransisco State College. Subsequently, she enrolled in graduate school at the University of Illinois, completing a Ph.D. program in 1962. Later, Barb studied law at the University of Oregon, earning a J.D. in 1976.
Barb worked closely with Samuel Kirk during her time at Illinois. She and her fellow students conducted research about the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities (ITPA). She and Kirk collaborated on the first publication using the term “learning disabilities”; it appeared in Exceptional Children in 1962. She continued that work as an assistant professor at Illinois and DePaul University, before taking a position at Oregon as an associate professor in 1966. She continued through the ranks at Oregon until she retired as professor emerita in 1994.
Barb frequently wrote and spoke about using the ITPA as a means of individualizing instruction for children during the early years of her career. By the 1970s, her scholarly work led her to become disenchanted with the diagnostic-remedial approach; she became a strong advocate of behavioristic methods, what she called a task-analytic approach and educators now know as “Direct Instruction.” She compared and contrasted the prevailing medical, diagnostic-remedial, and task-analytic approaches in a classic 1967 article, “Three Approaches to Diagnosis and Educational Planning for Children With Learning Disabilities.”
In 1973, Barb anticipated the rising importance of legal influences in special education and enrolled in law school. Asked why she was studying the law, she told me with characteristic simplicity and directness, “Because I want to do things to help kids and women.” Her combination of scholarly work and legal training along with the passage of Public Law 94-142 (the predecessor to what is known as “IDEA”) gave her an opportunity to combine special education and the law. Although she wrote many scholarly works about legal aspects of special education, Barb’s most widely read contribution is a book for parents and educators called Better IEPs: How to Develop Legally Correct and Educationally Useful Programs, co-authored with her friend and colleague, Mary-Anne Linden.
Barb took her work seriously, and it brought her many awards and acknowledgements. However, she worked hard not to have an inflated sense of her own importance. Indeed, she laughed about those colleagues who saw themselves as “The Grand Poohbahs” of special education.
Although she was a prodigious producer of scholarly works, Barb knew how to have fun. She watched birds wherever she was and would travel, unconcerned about distance and cost, to visit birding hotspots around the world. Throughout the time I knew her, she had pets including, at one count eight dogs and five cats. There may have been more at some other times! During her years in Illinois in the early ‘60s, she provided a home for a chimpanzee that she worked to teach sign language. Regularly curious, she taught herself about many things; at one time she collected golf balls and could provide a detailed lecture about brands, colors, dimpling, “smiles,” and more.
Bateman, B. D. (1967). Three approaches to diagnosis and educational planning for children with learning disabilities. Academic Therapy Quarterly, 2, 215-222. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F105345126700200402
Bateman, B. D. & Linden, M. A. (2012). Better IEPs: How to develop legally correct and educationally useful programs (5th ed.). Attainment.
Kirk, S. A., & Bateman, B. (1962). Diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 29(2), 73-78. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/001440296202900204