Education Policy: Research: Historical Overview: Kennedy:

Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009

The Kennedy Years: Disability and Education

Kennedy did not succeed in passing a "general aid" package for schools in 1961 or 1962, but he did sign several smaller programs into law. In particular, he succeeded in passing programs for disabled students (a group of particular interest to him, because his sister, Rosemary, suffered from mental retardation). In 1961, he gathered a distinguished panel of experts to develop "A National Plan to Combat Mental Retardation." The panel announced its findings two years later, in 1963, and Congress responded with two major laws: the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Act, which granted $265 million in federal aid over five years to support programs for the mentally retarded, and the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Construction Act, which granted $330 million over five years for new buildings to serve disabled citizens. Virtually every state launched a federally funded Mental Retardation Planning Project, the chief aim of which was to bolster states' eligibility for future federal grants.


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