An Example of Inequity in Education: Fairfax County Public Schools

Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, Marianne M. Hillemeier, and Steve Maczuga write in Replicated Evidence of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Disability Identification in U.S. Schools, "Findings of minority underidentification are consistent with reports that schools are more likely to (a) medicalize the struggles of White children while criminalizing those of minority children and (b) identify White children as gifted among those who are similarly high achieving." Sadly, the county I live in is an example of such schools.

Here are the facts.

(1) White and Asian children are much more likely to be identified as talented than Black and Hispanic children:

Above copied from
Civil Rights Data Collection

The Gifted and Talented program of Fairfax county already suffers from over-identification. More than 23 percent of students are deemed gifted or talented. Statistically, this means some of these students enrolled in talented programs are not even one standard deviation above the mean.

(2) Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be retained.

Above copied from
Civil Rights Data Collection

(3) Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be suspended.

Above copied from
Civil Rights Data Collection

Unfortunately, these trends are seen nationwide. There is obviously bias. Equally important, however, is actually recognizing that both gifted identification and suspensions are fundamentally flawed. All students deserve an engaging curriculum, not just those who have been identified as talented. And for suspensions, I think we could learn a lesson from a comics book that my son loves to read.

Above copied from


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