Frederick J. Weintraub, one of the primary contributors to U.S. laws that guide special education, passed away 2 May 2014 at age 72. He was born 28 August 1942 in New York City, the son of Barbara and Israel Weintraub, and grew up in Philadelphia.
In addition to co-editing classic works on educational policy (e.g., Ballard, Ramirez, & Weintraub, 1982; Weintraub, Abeson, Ballard, & Lavor, 1976) and testifying before the U.S. Congress repeatedly, Fred is probably most widely known for his contributions to the development of the laws and regulations that are the foundations of special education in the U.S. In the mid-1970s he had substantial influence on Public Law 94-142 and the rules guiding its implementation. That law and those rules have quite literally affected the lives of millions of children and their families.
For most of his career, Fred worked for the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). He served in multiple different roles primarily focused on governmental relations, policy, and professional development. In 2006 CEC gave Fred its highest honor, the J. E. Wallace Wallin Lifetime Achievement Award. After his career with CEC, he moved to the Los Angeles area where he sometimes lectured at local universities and later served as a special monitor for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Modified Consent Decree (based on the Chanda Smith Consent Decree).
Fred was a man of loyalty, consideration, character, and wit. He manifested all of those strengths when he sent a note to his friends a few weeks before his death, lamenting the fact that he would not see them at the annual CEC convention:
For the first time, since 1967, I will miss the pleasure of seeing you and my other CEC colleagues at the Convention. Since Philadelphia is where I grew up, my absence will be even more disappointing.
As some of you know my health has been declining for the past year leading to a near death system collapse in February. Since then I have been regaining my health and strength. However, we have found that the culprit for all the problems is Pancreatic Cancer, that is currently inoperable. While the chemo I am receiving may be of some help, I am not planning on submitting a session proposal for next year’s Convention.
I have had, thanks to many of you, a wonderful career. The campaigns we fought led to persons with disabilities having civil rights, children with disabilities having the right to an education and establishing national standards for the special education profession. Back in the early 1970’s I explained to a Member of Congress that he should support a civil rights amendment for people with disabilities by noting that at some point in our lives we will all be disabled. Well today I have an Accessible parking placard.
I am blessed to have a wonderful family and circle of friends. I am very proud of them and thankful for their support. For the past month we have shared stories about the adventures and experiences we had on this journey.
If there are stories you would like to share, I would love them. And if there are questions you may have about how we got here I’ll do my best to answer.
If you sense that I am spiritually and emotionally in a good place, you are correct. That is mostly because of the continuous support, assistance and love I receive from my wife and professional colleague Dr. Lynne Cook. If you are a friend of Lynne’s, as I know many of you are, a kind word or offer of support would be appreciated.
Finally, for those of you in Philly there is something you can do for me. Do one of the following:
- Have scrapple and eggs for breakfast
- Have an Italian Hoagie or Italian Cheese Steak with sweet and hot peppers for lunch (skip the Philly Cheese steak.
- Have a soft pretzel with mustard and a good beer
- Go to Independence Hall to remind yourself of what this journey has been about
- Share the experience
Fred is survived by his wife, Lynne Cook and his daughters Marya Long and Heather Moore, as well as grandchildren. Donations can be made to the Frederick Weintraub Educational Leadership Scholarship at California State University, Northridge. See the obituary from the Los Angeles (CA) Times 18 May 2014.
Ballard, J., Ramirez, B., & Weintraub, F. J. (Eds.). (1982). Special education in America: Its legal and governmental foundations. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
Weintraub, F. J., Abeson, A., Ballard, J., & LaVor, M. L. (Eds.). (1976). Public policy and the education of exceptional children. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.