Edwin (Ed) W. Martin worked in speech-language services when he got his start in special education about 65 years ago. His clinical work covered a wide range of disabilities, including not just students with disfluency or articulation issues, but also those with severe physically disabilities. Like most of us who have been around for a while, he can tell some stories about his experiences
For those who were not around “back in the day,” Ed moved on from his clinical efforts to be Staff Director of the Subcommittee on the Handicapped, chaired by Congressman Hugh Carey of New York. Along with staffers from other representatives’ office, Ed helped to craft the 1966 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Amendments, and guide it to passage by the US Congress. “Title VI” of that Act was known as “The Education of Handicapped Children Act,”, P.L 89-750, which, for the first time provided federal funds to public school to “initiate, expand and provide special education services.”
Helping pass the original and amended versions of ESEA established an auspicious marker for the federal role in special education. Ed was not finished, however.
Ed moved on to leading the Bureau for the Education of the Handicapped (BEH) that was then in the Department of Health Education & Welfare, taking the leadership position in part, as a result of his work on Title VI. BEH provided grants aimed at improving education of “the handicapped,” whether by starting programs or expanding them. Prior to passage of Public Law 94-142 (the law that established what US educators now know as “IDEA”) and for a few years after passage, BEH was, for all intents and purposes, the office that made special education happen at the federal level. For example, during that time and in collaboration with Jim Gallagher, BEH funded a substantial jump in personnel development programs across the nation, and began federal support for early childhood education, leading to a new professional discipline.
Given his involvement in these legislative advances, it should come as no surprise that Ed was deeply involved in helping to move PL 94-142 through the US Congress and in crafting the rules and regulations that came from it. In collaboration with his colleagues from the Council for Exceptional Children, the late Fred Weintraub and the late Joe Ballard, Ed contributed mightily to the heavy lifting to make “The Law” address fundamental issues that had been exposed in 1970s legal decisions (see, for example, Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Mills v. Board of Education) as well as conceptually clear (the law established child find, FAPE, and IEPs, for example).
After retiring from the government, Ed provided leadership in non-governmental organizations (e.g., National Center for Disability Services), including serving four years in the presidential line of CEC's Division for Learning Disabilities. He also wrote an excellent book-length treatment of the early history of legal aspects of special education (Martin, 2013) and was mayor (2007-2010) of Venice, Florida.
Martin, E. W. (1976). A national commitment to the rights of the handicapped individual, 1776-1976. Exceptional Children, 43(3), 132-135.
Martin, E. W. (1995). Case studies on inclusion: Worst fears realized. The Journal of Special Education, 29, 192-199. https://doi.org/10.1177/002246699502900209
Martin, E. W. (2013). Breakthrough: Federal special education legislation 1963-1981. Bardolf.
Martin, E. W., Martin, R., & Terman, D. L. (1996). The legislative and litigation history of special education. Futures of Children, 6(1), 25-39. https://doi.org/10.2307/1602492