The Department of Exceptional Education at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee is committed to the preparation of personnel who teach and serve individuals with disabilities, particularly those in urban settings. Further, we support citizen and professional activities that optimize opportunities for individuals with disabilities that improve educational practices and services.
In accordance with this mission, we believe our programs must develop professionals who:
- Work to develop and deliver programs that insure the educational, social, personal and vocational competence of students.
- Develop and deliver instructional strategies for individual students and groups of students in a proactive, data-based and ethical manner.
- Respect diversity and support programs that honor differences in students, parents and programs.
- Collaborate with families, supportive service personnel and community agencies in the delivery of services to individuals with disabilities.
- Reflect on their professional practice and participate in opportunities for career-long professional development.
- Serve as change agents and advocates with, and on behalf, of individuals with disabilities and their families.
The Department of Exception has a rich history, beginning with Deaf Education in 1908 and continues to train educators in Exceptional Education utilizing the latest innovations and technology.
Brief History of the Department of Exceptional Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee by Prof. Paul Haubrich.
Ladies' Athletics at the Normal School, 1896.
Teacher education was the center piece program at Milwaukee State Teachers College, which had as its original purpose as the preparation of teachers for educational programs in Milwaukee County, serving primarily Milwaukee Public Schools. The original programs were extensions of the high school programs. Qualified high school graduates with the addition of one years schooling became elementary school teachers. Secondary teachers were generally expected to have a four year degree. As the needs of the Milwaukee Public Schools grew, the need for specialized teaching staff grew within the district.
Classes for the preparation of teachers for the Mentally Retarded began as early as the turn of the century and programs for training teachers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students began in 1908 when MPS took over a private school program, the Binner School, and began offering educational programs for children who were deaf and hard of hearinng. The Milwaukee State Teacher College program for training professionals in Deaf Education began in 1917, and the program for Mental Retardation began in 1919 as an outgrowth of special courses in the elementary education program. These two programs were the first college level special education training programs in the state of Wisconsin.
By the early 1920's, Milwaukee Public Schools developed a three-track system for the delivery of educational programs. Track A served regular education students, Track B served as a program for slow learners, and Track C served special needs students. This pattern continued through the early 1960's. Commonly special education teachers were called "Special C" teachers. UWM continued to provide the vast majority of teachers for the MPS special needs programs from the 1920's to the late 1950's.
In 1959 the Milwaukee Junior League sponsored a special project with the UWM Lab School for an experimental program in Learning Disabilities. A Master's level teacher training program in Learning Disabilities was developed in 1960 and was soon followed by a Master's degree level program in the area of Emotional Disturbance. These two new programs brought the total of special education programs at UWM to four and led to the formation of the Department of Exceptional Education in 1963. The Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disturbance programs were the first for these special areas in the State of Wisconsin.The last two certification programs to be added were the Special Education Administration option, which was added formally in 1974, and the Early Childhood Certification which was approved in 1982. Early leadership in special education at the local and state levels emerged from the UWM programs, and this trend continues to this day with most of the special education administrators in the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area tracing their educational roots to UWM.