"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, September 1, 2017

Wait, It Gets Worse If You Are Poor And Black

In a previous post, "Double Dose of Disadvantage", the sad plight of poor children in public basic education is highlighted. Not only do poor children enter school less prepared, but once they start school, both resources and expectations are often limited. Now, there is apparently a third dose of disadvantage if the child belongs to a minority group. Recent research shows that Blacks, Hispanics, Native American, Asians, and children of mixed races are all less likely compared to Whites to be identified for special education services.

Special education, when done properly, addresses specific needs of a child with disabilities. A child with disabilities is entitled to an Individualized Education Program that comes with both accomodations and interventions that address a child's challenges. Making special education synonymous with lower expectations is simply wrong. The notion that minority children are often assigned to special education is likewise quite common. Indeed, proportionally, there are more black children (15%) identified as disabled than white children (13%). Such overestimation coupled with the view that special education is some way of segregation can therefore lead to the conclusion that expectations for minority children are now further lowered. Two wrongs obviously do not make one right. Children with disabilities need to be both identified and helped. Clearly, good data is essential in order to gauge correctly the situation so that what is wrong can be addressed and properly rectified.

Minority children are in fact less likely to be identified with a learning disability. Such conclusion can only be reached if all factors are considered. Paul Morgan and coworkers have done such research and their main finding is this: Given two children, one white, the other a minority, both with similar socioeconomic status, school factors, and test scores, the white child is more likely to be assigned to an individualized education program (IEP):

Above copied from
Replicated Evidence of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Disability Identification in U.S. Schools
Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, Marianne M. Hillemeier, SteveMaczuga
Educational Researcher
First published date: August-27-2017
In order to address a problem, it is indeed important to identify the correct problem. What Morgan and his colleagues have found support the idea that we often give less to those who are in greater need. It is the main reason why there is inequity in our schools. We often assign better resources to those who are already priviliged. What is surprising is we always seem to be confused why poor and minority children are not doing well in schools when the reason is so clear. We are giving them doses of disadvantage.

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