Herbert Goldstein, Pioneer in Special Education, Remembered

by The College of Education  /   Feb 25, 2010

Photo of Herbert Goldstein

Herbert Goldstein earned his Ed.D. in Special Education from the University of Illinois in 1957. During his time at Illinois, Goldstein became an associate professor, while also serving as a special consultant to the Illinois Department of Public Instruction. Goldstein worked on numerous projects for the Institute for Research on Exceptional Children (IREC), earning recognition as a pioneer in the field of Special Education. One of his major projects, with J.W. Moss and Laura Jordan, was published by the IREC in 1965, The Efficacy of Special Class Training on the Development of Mentally Retarded Children.

On January 13, 2010, Goldstein passed away in Teaneck, NJ, where he lived since his retirement from New York University in 1980.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Goldstein later served in World War II as an Army hospital corpsman. He received his undergraduate and master's degrees from San Francisco State University. From California, he moved to the Midwest to pursue his doctorate in education at the University of Illinois.

Robert Henderson, Professor Emeritus in Special Education, recalls a shared career path with his late friend and colleague: Both received master's degrees from San Francisco State University. Both served in the military. Both earned an Ed.D from the University of Illinois.

"When I arrived (at Illinois) with my wife and three children, I found that Herb and his wife lived only a few blocks away in what was then 'Stadium Terrace,' dozens of tar-paper buildings, each divided into three apartments," Henderson recalls. "When we first arrived, Herb came over to warn us about the stoves. His was coal burning, and one cold winter day when his wife was away, he stuffed it full of coal before heading off to campus. Returning at noon, he discovered the apartment was near kindling point and the stove was glowing hot. We Californians just were not used to such low temperatures!"

Laura Jordan, former Head of the Department of Special Education, said Goldstein's good sense of humor set him apart from the crowd. While finishing her doctoral studies at Illinois, Jordan shared an office with Goldstein. "He was a pretty popular member of the faculty," Jordan said, praising Goldstein's generous spirit. "He and his wife used to host the whole department at their home."

After his service at Illinois, Goldstein was named a Fulbright Scholar and Lecturer at the University of Oslo, Norway in 1962 and a Fulbright Scholar in Australia in 1971. From 1962 to 1967, he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Special Education at the Ferkhauf Graduate School of Yeshiva University in New York. In 1968 he became Director of the Curriculum Research & Development Center in mental retardation at Yeshiva and New York Universities. Goldstein was especially known for developing the social learning curriculum for students with mental retardation.

When the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Pennsylvania (1972) court decision paved the way for inclusive education for children with learning disabilities, Goldstein was named a "Master" of the court to oversee that schools in Pennsylvania complied with the decree. Goldstein held a range of leadership positions in professional organizations and retired from NYU in 1980 as professor emeritus.

Widely published, Dr. Goldstein is regarded as an authority and pioneer in his field. He is survived by his beloved wife, Marjorie, sons Jay (Carol) of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Jed of Denver, Colo., grandsons Josh (Maureen) and Eli, and great-granddaughters, Hannah and Abby.