In Memoriam Fred Weintraub May 2014

A tribute to Frederick Weintraub, adopted by the Teacher Education Division (TED) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), May 2014.

On May 2, 2014, the field of special education lost one of its strongest advocates. Fred Weintraub was an active member, participant, consultant, and advisor to the Council for Exceptional Children, the Teacher Education Division of CEC, and the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education. The leaders and members of these organizations wish to recognize his incredible support, leadership and dedication to our field and to students with special needs and all who work with them and love them.

Fred had a forty year career in special education with inestimable public policy contributions and a national reputation that defined state, provincial, and federal public and professional advancements for children with exceptionalities and the professionals who serve them. His vision and leadership resulted in improved quality of research in the field and dissemination of knowledge to practitioners.

In 2006, Fred received CEC’s highest honor in 2006, the CEC J.E. Wallace Wallin Lifetime Achievement Award, for his outstanding career contributions to the education of children with disabilities. His work with CEC began in 1967 as the Senior Administrator, Analytical Study of State Legislation (1967-1969). He was Director of the State/Federal Information Clearinghouse for Exceptional Children in 1968 and then Assistant Executive Director for Governmental Relations for many years (1969-1990). In 1993, Fred became the Assistant Executive Director for Communication (1990-1993), followed by Senior Director for Publications & Professional Standards from 1993-1996. In 1997, Fred worked as the Assistant Executive Director for Professional Standards and Practice (1997) before focusing his work on special education in California, where he lived with his wife Lynne Cook.

Just as he was active & impactful with CEC, Fred was equally active in California. He taught as an adjunct professor in the Department of Special Education at California State University, Northridge during the 1990s and early 2000s. From 1997-2000, he served as Special Education Monitor and then Special Advisor to the Superintendent of Schools in San Diego, working to oversee the implementation of a state and federal corrective action plan.  In 2005, Fred was appointed as the Special Monitor for the Los Angeles Unified School District during a very critical period.  In November 2013, Fred was appointed to co-chair (with Dr. Carol Cohn) the California Department of Education's Statewide Special Education Taskforce to examine California's complex systems for serving students with disabilities and forward recommendations to the State Board of Education, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and the California Department of Education.

Fred is best known for being one of the architects of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA), a precursor to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Wendy Murawski, President of TED, remembers Fred coming to her classes at California State University Northridge and talking about how EAHCA and its components came about. “Fred would tell my students,” Wendy remembers, “that ‘it was just a few of us guys sitting around saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get all the folks together who love and work with the kid, from different perspectives, to say where the child is now, where they all thought he should be in a year, and how they could help him get there?’ Fred would then pause and say, ‘We never in a million years thought it would become ‘The student will hang his red hat on the third peg to the left 4 out of 7 times with 82% accuracy on days ending in Y!’ The students would all laugh and Fred would go on to share how much he had seen change for students with disabilities before and after 1975. What a powerful impact it had on them. To know someone who had changed the world forever with his tireless efforts and his vision for all children to be treated fairly and with respect. I am forever grateful to Fred Weintraub as an advocate and I will forever miss him as a friend.”

In a powerful message that Fred himself sent to SpedPro on April 8, 2014, he mentioned that 2014 was the first year since 1967 that he had not attended the CEC convention. He noted that, “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.” His letter went on to mention how blessed, proud and thankful he was, how grateful he was to his family and wife, and how he urged all of his CEC colleagues to go and enjoy the experiences of Philadelphia, where he grew up.

Fred was the husband of Lynne Cook, former Chair and Professor in the Department of Special Education at California State University Northridge, and former Dean at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Lynne is also a past president of the Teacher Education Division of Council for Exceptional Children, a very active member of CEC, and a well-known author and speaker in special education.

Even with so many accomplishments and appointments with significant impact in the field of special education, Fred always remained humble and modest and saw himself as helping those who couldn't effectively advocate for themselves.  Fred's belief in empowering families and students is clearly evidenced in four characteristics of the EAHCA: equal access to education for students with disabilities, implementation of an educational plan, least restrictive environment, and judicial review of a school's administrative decision. Much of Fred’s life was spent creating and then supporting and ensuring these characteristics and rights. Our field, and the lives of thousands of children and families with special needs, is better because of the work and passion of Fred Weintraub.

Fred, you are an inspiration to us all and you will be sorely missed, professionally and personally.

TED and HECSE send sincere condolences to Fred's family and friends. We hope this resolution serves to demonstrate the incredible respect we have for Fred and his efforts on the behalf of special education.

Adopted by the Teacher Education Division (TED) of CEC and the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), May 2014