- On the U.S. Department of Education's website, special ed teachers Lisa Coates and Josalyn Tersvant McGhee detail their reactions to the new Obama administration initiative to more fairly identify and serve students of color who need special ed services.
- Coates writes that she's known about the disproportionately high representation of students of color identified for special education, and connects the problem to the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Tresvant ties the disparity to poverty, while noting that it's important to pay attention to every learner and provide individualized attention to make sure all students are engaged participants in the classroom who are also confident.
The new data from the U.S. Department of Education, released last month, proves that students of color are disproportionately placed into K-12 special ed programs.
The statistics inspired the Obama administration to ask states to address the problem, and a new nationwide rule has ben proposed to standardize the identification of disabled students. It would also set aside 15% of IDEA funding in districts where students of color are disproportionately identified, widening access to early childhood intervention.
Solving the disparity crisis in special ed is also related to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Students in low-performing schools without mental health care and highly qualified teachers and staff are especially impacted. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that 33% of youth within the juvenile justice system are believed to have an emotional or learning disability, but the number in reality might even be as high as 70%,