Special Education History: From a Ph.D. who is a genealogist!

Today there are many people worried about the future of special education for our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins who have special needs. I know several people who have been involved in Special Education and not surprisingly, most are also genealogists.

I am delighted to announce that a former student of mine, Norena A. Hale, is documenting the history of this needed education and especially in Minnesota. She will be producing more on this topic, too.

I blushed a bit when she told me, “I have you to thank for starting me on this journey from the early classes I took with you, esp. at the MN History Center. I’ve become a regular using their library as I search the early history of how we did or did not educate children with disabilities in MN.”

Let me tell you about part of her journey in her own words. When you read the “About the author” note that she is not shy about her genealogy connections! Her book is titled Special Education Administration: How it Evolved in Minnesota. (Self-published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,  2016. Available on Amazon.) I am saddened at how long it took to get such programs going. 

“Through the Minnesota Special Education Leaders Foundation, Norena Hale pieces together how the history of general and special education administration evolved through two separate paths in Minnesota.

Public schools in Minnesota were first allowed to receive state aids for educating blind, deaf, and mentally subnormal children in 1915. Many of the first teachers were mothers. By the 1950s, some were appointed program supervisors. A 1957 state law mandated public school education for those who were “educable” and then with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title VI in 1966, federal dollars were used as incentives for expanding special education and for administrators to oversee those programs.

By the 1960s thousands of schools were consolidated and the elementary and high schools principals, superintendents, and special education supervisors and directors were brought together into one type of school system. At first most of the directors were male, by 2014, most were female. Hale summarizes this history with timelines and charts and with lots of historic photographs. All royalties go to MnSELF (Minnesota Special Education Leadership Foundation) .”

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Norena A. Hale, PhD has spent her career in special education, as a teacher, higher education instructor, state administrator, consultant, and researcher. She retired from the Minnesota Department of Education in 2006 after 26 years as a state administrator and director of special education. Then she became an educational consultant through the North Central Regional Resource Center at the University of Minnesota. The Center provided technical assistance to eight state special education agencies in the north central region. Dr. Hale also has 20 years experience as a family and local historian through the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Minnesota History Center, and a number of genealogical societies. Most recently, she has been researching and writing about various aspects of special education history in Minnesota through the MnSELF (Minnesota Special Education Leadership Foundation) and the Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage Funds.

© 2017, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

One thought on “Special Education History: From a Ph.D. who is a genealogist!

  1. Paula, This is great – I met Norena at SLIG these last two years and so enjoyed visiting with her. Thank you for giving her the recognition she deserves. The best people go to SLIG!!

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