MINORITY CHILDREN & THEIR OVER-REPRESENTATION IN SPECIAL EDUCATION.
A nationwide statistical analysis of placement into special education done by Kilalea Associates in 1980 (News Digest, 1987), based upon data from the US. Office for Civil Rights, has observed that "a minority student was found to be 2.3 times more likely than a white student to be classified EMR ... [Educable Mentally Retarded] ... 1.7 times as likely to be classified as TMR ... [Trainable Mentally Retarded] ... " (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993, p. 9).
The corresponding national statistics for placement by retardation are:
The distribution, of minority children in Special Education, is as follows:
National Enrollment Indices
It is projected by the US Bureau of Census that, by the year 2000, minority enrollments, in the United States, will be between 40% and 60% of the population of all children in our public schools. The enrollment projections would be between 57% and 60% for the states of New York and California. However, the projected minority population, nationally, would be about 33% by 2000 (Education Week, 1986). The greatest increases, for African-American children in public school, are in New York State through the Atlantic corridor including Washington, DC., through Georgia, Mississippi, South and North Carolina, Alabama and westwards to California. For Latino children, the largest increases are in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California (Education Week, 1986).
In California, by 1986, African-American children were the majority of children in elementary schools. In Texas, in 1986, African-American and Latino children were 46% of students at all levels in the public school system. As of 1986, minority children made up majorities in the twenty-five largest school systems in the nation (Education Week, 1986).
Relative California percentile ratios, in 1992, show that there is a 50.8% minority student distribution in a general student population of about 4.6 million.
In New York City, in 1988, ethnic distributions and composition of public school children are: 34.1% Latino, 38.4% African-American, 6.9% Asian, and 20% Caucasian for an aggregate school population of 939,933 (The New York City Board of Education Report, Fiscal Year 1988; Cf., The Advocate, Winter 1993-Spring 1994).
The comparative ethnic composition of instructional staff was for the early 1990s: 8.9% Latino, 17.6% African-American, 1.3% Asian, 73.2% Caucasian (The New York City Board of Education Report, Fiscal Year 1988; Cf., The Advocate, Winter 1993-Spring 1994). In Special Education, the aggregate percentile distribution of minority school children relative to others is 90% to 10%.
The comparative percentile sub-ethnic composition of minority school children in New York City by aggregate public school statistics is: African-American 50%, Latino%, Asian 12%, Others were at 11%.
Special Education Over-Enrollment & Comparative Cost Indices
Nationally, US data statistics show a 20% increase in Special Education enrollment "from 4.3 million in 1984 to 5.3 million in 1994" (Portner, p. 4). Comparatively, the US population has increased by only 9.8% between 1984 and 1994 (Johnston, p. 2).
In New York State, the Special Education student population has increased from 262,482 (1989), at 10.3% of the public school student population, to 347,126 (December 1995), in 1997 to 12.4% since 1.989 (The New York Teacher, 7 April 1997). Total public school student enrollment (for General Education), from 1989 to 1995, went from 2,548,710 to 2,777,876, an 8.9% increase (The New York Teacher, 7 April 1997).
The 1995-1996 per capita cost of educating a Special Education student in a self-contained classroom in an out-of-district placement averaged $21,000.00 and ranged as high as $50,000.00 ... [compared with the] ... average per-pupil cost for a General Education classroom" which has been $8,900.00 but "placing a Special Education classroom for only 20 percent of the day costs an average [of] $9,162 annually. Providing a consultant teacher for inclusion programs cost $12,914 per child (The New York Teacher, 7 April 1997, p. 13A; See also New York State Education Department Data Statistics).
Effect of Budget Cuts on Special Education
In 1988, a budget crisis in New York City resulted in the loss of $750 Million to the New York City Board of Education budget which led to hiring declines of child case workers, specialists and cuts in support services.
These losses had originally begun under the Mayor Abraham Beame administration, were slightly restored under Mayor Edward Koch but subsequent budget crises ensured greater losses under mayors in the late 1980s through the 1990s, that is under Mayors David Dinkins and Rudy Guiliani.
The effect of the loss of child welfare and guidance supporting services was a sharp increase of children reffered to and placed in Special Education ... Children started being referred to Special Education in large numbers. The number of children labeled as ... [disabled] ... surged, in fact more than doubled, in six years: from about 54,000 in 1979 to 116,300 in 1985 (The Advocate, Winter 1993-Spring 1994, pp. 10-11).
The referral population increased to 119,000 by 1990-1991. It was Special Education which came to the rescue:
it cannot be denied that Special Education has been and continues to be a life-saver for many children with special needs. However, there is striking testimony over the years that many of these additional thousands of children are being unnecessarily stigmatized as ... [children with disabilities] ... because of lack of supportive services in general education (The Advocate, Winter 1993-Spring 1994, p. 11).
Affirming this as a crisis, of placement of children (into Special Education) who would ordinarily have remained in General Education if the supporting services, case workers and specialists had not been decimated by temporary budgetary crises, the Beattie Commission (1985), in New York City, noted that over 116,300 children continued to be placed and quarantined in Special Education "not necessarily because they are handicapped but because they need services unavailable in ... [General] ... Education" (The Advocate, Winter 1993-Spring 1994, p. 11).
The New York City's Schools Chancellor of the late 1980s, Mr. Richard Green, is reported, in 1988, to have observed that
the explosive growth of Special Education enrollments in the late 1970s and the early 1980s must be viewed as an expression of failure in General Education. It [Special Education] is a recourse for parents when their children fail to make progress but do not receive adequate help ... [Special Education] is an outlet for teachers and schools when children require time and attention that cannot be provided due to lack of resources (The Advocate, Winter 1993-Spring 1994, p. 11).
Thus local budget priorities and crises, sheer tactical expedience rather than long-term policy calculations, and the playing around with child welfare agency budgets, for staffing, and specialist recidivism, have contributed to a vast increase of minority children in Special Education because minority families typically suffer from social service program cuts.
Special Education programs are an indirect proxy magnet for federal and state revenues into local economies, revenues which are, at best, used to feed into the public school system to maintain the Special Education classroom teacher, guidance counselor, nurse-to-student ratios; at worst, these revenues are diverted into balancing local budget deficits outside the public school systems rather than serving the interests of Special Education (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993).
Special Education Bureaucrazation & Systematic Costs
While minority children's placements have greatly increased in Special Education, a Special Education bureaucracy now exists feeding upon itself, upon national mandates, and perpetuating its own interests at the risk of overtaking, in size, official constructs in the educational system where "in Connecticut, for instance, a separate transportation system costs ... 10 times more to bus a Special Education student than one attending regular classes ... [and in other states] ..." (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993, p. 48). In about 67% of states in the nation:
reimbursement formulas for special education programs had an effect in determining the number and type of such programs funded. Texas, for instance, pays local school districts 10 times more for teaching special education students in separate classrooms than in classrooms with other students. The result? Despite generally accepted evidence that some special educations students benefit from ... [general] ... classrooms, only 5 percent of all special education students in Texas are taught in regular classrooms ... In Tennessee, thousands of special education students who had been receiving training just a few hours a week in separate classrooms were assigned to nearly all-day classes in separate rooms. The reason: a change in the state's special education funding formula that gave school districts more money to teach special education students in separate rooms (US News & Worm Report, 13 December 1993, pp. 46-47).
Special Education Placement As A Means Of Manipulating National Test Scores
There are serious systematic and administrative incentives for some school principals using Special Education to manipulate competency test scores by using bait and switch tactics.
This has "rail-roaded" African-American children into Special Education in order to maintain a school's meritorious national test scores.
It has been reported that, in order to raise competency test scores in their schools, some principals have resorted to "placing low-scoring students in special education programs-children who might otherwise not be in special education...in most states, Special Education students are exempted from reading and mathematics examinations" (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993, p. 48).
The consequence of shifting, back and forth, low scoring General Education students into Special Education has been that the remnant non-minority high-scoring students, left to take state-wide competency examinations, produce artificially high statistical scores with mean and median, scores distributionally skewed positively in the Bell Curve. That is, such schools' scores are manifestly and artificially increased relative to their norm-referenced frames.
This is very important for the bureaucrats and administrators in such schools. Individual performance evaluations required for promotions and compensation for such persons become enhanced.
Richard Allington and Anne McGillFranzen of the State University of New York at Albany have reported such practices alleged to exist, but not widespread, in some school districts (US News & Worm Report, 13 December 1993, p. 48).
One of the most important consequences of the relationship between increasing disproportionate placements into Special Education and increasing bureaucratization is the proliferation and growth of a licensing and certification milieu for Special Education teachers.
The fastest growing teacher population and license area in the US, at the present time, is the Special Education license regime which has superseded all General Education licenses.
Office of Civil Rights Litigation & Enforcement Laxity;
While African-American children's placements into Special Education have vastly increased, the enforcement of discrimination litigation cases have greatly subsided almost to a standstill.
Of about 10,147 pending discrimination litigation cases which went before the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, since 1987, only 1 out of 10,147, was deemed to have been of merit to be granted relief (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993, p. 49).
This enforcement success rate is about 0.000098551296%, practically zero. This is ridiculous by standards deemed acceptable in a modern, civilized polity in which the poor can expect to gain relief from their own government.
The enforcement rate must, however, be understood from the background of conservative Republican politics, of the politics of Mr. Reagan and Mr. Bush of the 1980s. Conservative politics has adapted the impetus for dealing with these cases. Congressional Republican threats to abolish the Department of Education, under which the Office of Civil Rights operates, has effectively stifled enforcement activism. Consequently, the Office of Civil Rights, in so far as Special education enforcement activities are concerned, is ineffective. In this instance, only one offending School District was denied federal funds as punishment.
Such a small enforcement success rate emboldens School Districts, nationally, to forestall reforms which diligent compliance to Congressional and judicial statutes and mandates require.
One way to forestall compliance is to provide the US Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights with data which is out of date, or with data which is meaningless and has no relational context for assessing comparative compliance success, or with data which is misleading but easy to interpret or misinterpret with many different implications:
New York State recently submitted data on graduation rates of special education students for a report to Congress ... [this was] ... reviewed [and] the submission ... found [to include] information on just 9,418 of New York's 324,677 Special Education students. New York officials admit the misreporting (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993, p. 49).
Poverty Indices Relative to Over-Enrollment
In 1980, minority children accounted for 27% of aggregate public school enrollment nationally, an increase of 6% over the preceding decade (Education Week, 1986).
In September 1986, 25% of public school children came from families living at national levels of poverty, 14% came from homes of un-wed teenage mothers, 15% were already diagnosed as physically or mentally disabled before entering public school, at least 15% were immigrant children speaking languages other than English, 14% came from homes of unmarried parents, 40% were living with a divorced parent before reaching 18, at least 10% lived with parents who were either illiterates or minimally educated, between 25% and 33% were already "latchkey Children" with or without real parents and living with "guardians," at least 25 % would become drop-outs (Education Week, 1986).
In New York City, such poverty indices relative to minority families and children are most likely to be found in Districts 1, 4, 5 and 6 in Manhattan; in Districts 7, 8, 9, 9, 10, and 12 in the Bronx; in Districts 16, 17, 19, 23 and 32 in Brooklyn. these districts contain schools with some of the worst academic achievement test scores in the nation.
The poverty statistics have actually increased in percentages and in actual real numbers since the 1990 Census. Congressional Republican Reform has exacerbated them as a result of the taking away of compensatory poverty entitlements, such as food-stamps, welfare and medicaid benefits, from the poor. Poverty effects have intensified over-enrollment and placement, into Special Education, of families living below poverty levels, from homes of teenage mothers with or without husbands, from divorced parents, from parents who are minimally educated, and from homes where they are "latchkey."
Without adequate kindergarten and early intervention resources as compensatory mechanisms, the public school system has tended to be overwhelmed with children from these very poor socio-economic environments. Clearly, poverty indices are correlated with placements into special education if statistically modeled.
In 1984, the comparative statistics for all children living in poverty was about 25%. Out of this, 50% African-American children lived in poverty, 40% Latino children lived under similar circumstances (Education Week, 1986).
White families tend to live in suburbia distributed between upper to middle class incomes. Black families tend to live in urban America distributed within middle to low income milieux.
This means that together with the shrinking pool of potential white school children in urban areas, a greater number of white school children would tend to attend school in suburbia.
Black families, on the other hand, tend to live in the urban areas, for socio-economic reasons, where the tax base has shrunk in corresponding relationship with proportional flight of the white economic tax base.
This means that there is much less public money available for child welfare agencies to cater to children's problems at source particularly for those school systems with large concentrations of minority school children, most often African-American children.
This would tend to intensify the problem of innapropriate enrollment increases in special education in the urban areas to the detriment of African-American children particularly when children's welfare agencies are under-funded and are inadequate to deal with its overwhelming clientele. Intensifying the problem is a corresponding relationship between poverty and placement which we have noted already.
US Department of Education data statistics show that in over 80% of the states in the union, "black students are over-represented in special education programs" (Education Week, 1986, p. 48) relative to their actual percentages in the aggregate student population in public schools.
This is more likely to occur even when black children are, in fact, a tiny minority in predominantly white school districts; that is, regardless of their actual numbers in the school population and household demographics like aggregate family income and aggregate family education levels (Education Week, 1986, p. 48). But let us see what is happening in the urban areas with a shrunken tax base.
By 1993, there were 5 million students in Special Education across the US, about 2% of the aggregate population of the US, and 10% of aggregate student enrollment in all public schools. In 1997, these statistics have increased in spite of efforts to contain the increasing statistical numbers by principles of inclusion and mainstreaming. Mostly, these statistics consist of increasing numbers of minority children being placed into Special Education by inappropriate referrals.
Many of these children attend relatively poor schools. Their medical, psychological and social dysfunctions are not properly evaluated and treated quickly. Such children are referred into Special Education as the place with adequately funded resources to manage these problems. In addition, many of them are placed into Special Education on the basis of culturally-biased IQ tests or testing criteria with no immediate validity to ecological and intervening environmental influences.
In New York City, we have said that some of these poorly-rated schools are mostly concentrated in the poorest communities of blacks and Hispanics. A recent report (The Industrial Areas Foundation & Public Education Association, 1997; Cf., The Newsday, 19 March 1997, p. A28) statistically assesses and paints a picture of distressing and very gloomy graduation rates, of low standardized test results and general education mediocrity in these New York City School Districts.
The report characterizes 14 School Districts in New York City as a "' dead zone' of educational opportunity" (The Industrial Areas Foundation & Public Education Association, 1997; Cf., The Newday, 19 March 19997, p. A28).
In 5 of these 14 School Districts, which are in the Bronx, School Districts 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, "60 percent of black and Hispanic students are in schools at or near the bottom of the city's rankings." In Manhattan, the worst districts are School Districts 1, 4, 5, 6. In Brooklyn, the School Districts are 16, 17, 19, 23 and 32 which:
house 358 schools, almost a third of the 1,100 [schools] in the system. Almost half of the schools, or 47 percent, reside in the bottom quarter of citywide elementary and missile school rankings. In addition, just 29 percent of the elementary and intermediate school students in these problem-ridden districts are reading at or above grade level, compared with 48 percent in the other 18 community school districts in the city (The Industrial Areas Foundation & Public Education Association, 1997; Cf., The Newsday, 19 March 1997, p. A28).
In the case of high schools, the report says, their performance is unacceptable. 25 high schools, with the least graduation rates city-wide, enroll mostly poor minority students, of over 53,000. Their graduation rate is less than 40 percent (The Industrial Areas Foundation & Public Education Association, 1997; Cf., The Newday, 19 March 1997, p. A28).
Most of the Special Education placements, citywide, happen to originate and end in these poor schools and districts with large minority families and children.
Effects of IQ Testing & Scores on Minority Over-Enrollment in Special Education, Systematic Bias & Stereotyping:
Of IQ scores and testing, US. News & Worm Report characterizes these as:
subjective testing criteria, that rely on funding formulas and identification procedures that funnel ever greater numbers of children into special programs each year and that, in state after state, include disproportionately high numbers of black schoolchildren. The system has ballooned into more than a $30 billion-a-year industry, and the costs are climbing. More troubling, nearly 40 years after Brown v. Topeka (Kansas) Board of Education, ... Americans continue to pay for and send their children to classrooms that are often separate and unequal (US News & World Report, 13 December 1993, p. 46).
One of the most important causes of inappropriate placements is the relationship between Special Education placement and IQ test scores and results, as mentioned before.
Scholars have documented this correlation particularly as IQ tests determine placements into this category of the Educable Mentally Retarded category of Special Education.
Such IQ tests invariably are culturally, socially and racially biased reflecting "white, middle class values and experiences" and are not compatible with normative experiences of children living within a just and democratic society.
The IQ test scores and results tend to undermine the spirit and rulings of court and juridical mandates and the very equality of opportunity and due process which court rulings and Congressional mandates have granted and affirmed as relief to minority children (Brown v. Topeka (Kansas) Board of Education, IDEA, PL. 94-142, et al.,), and children whose first languages are other than English.
IQ tests tend to place these children at undue disadvantage during placement decision-makings so that they are more likely to be placed into Special Education merely because of the very fact of being who they are racially, culturally, socially and economically at birth.
Placement decision-making based upon IQ tests presume that the tests are a fair sample of cultural, social, linguistic and cognitive styles based on a normal sampling of the population at large, and assume that children who do very well in them are intrinsically more competent relative to their peers whether the "do-wells" have been prepared or coached at better resource-endowed schools for such tests or not.
When IQ tests are given, they are administered holding environmental, ecological settings, school resourcefulness and reinforcers, abundance or professional staff and other extraneous independent variables, which may likely affect test outcomes, as constants. This makes test results irrelevant, very suspect and a tool for biased decision-making and placement. The tests may also be a sampling of white cultural, social and linguistic attitudes and styles but administered to black and minority children which makes their statistical interpretation very suspect.
But these statistical results based upon scorings of white attitudes and styles are the basis for placement decision-makings (News Digest, 1987), for minority children, into Special Education without an intervening ecological and environmental perspective to compensate for testing and placement.
It is rather, fair to say that more minority children continue to be placed into Special Education, on the basis of these IQ tests, even though there is now general consensus that IQ instruments, as basis for placements, are imperfect and patiently unfair (News Digest, 1987), and not in accord with due process and equality of free access to educational opportunity as guaranteed by PL. 94-142.
The consequence of "inappropriate referrals" into Special Education has been the stigmatization of a large number of minority children and of a continuing perception that this population is a racial underclass even in spite of the vast successes and progress of blacks in the nation. Such "irrational" placements of minority children into Special Education lends credibility to the charge of systematic bias and racism, and unfair cultural bias even when real medical and psychologically diagnosed disabilities have been factored out of placement decision-making (US News & Worm Report, 13 December 1993).
This leads to the question of whether, in fact, the educational system is fossilized as a mirror microcosm of the larger society unable to honestly accommodate the rights, in spite of juridical and legislative mandates, of minority children taking into account appropriate intervening historic, cultural, social, economical, and educational insights as they may relate to placement and environment. Some of these Congressional and juridical mandates include the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Diana v. the California State Board of Education (1970); Lau v. Nichols (1974); PL. 94-142; Aspira v. New York City Board of Education (1974); Jose R. Ambach (1979); UCP v. New York City Board of Education (1980); Reid v. New York City Board of Education (1977); Lora v. New York City Board of Education (1979), et al.
Fertility Rates & Impact on Over-Representation of Minority Children in Special Education
There is a final issue of comparative fertility statistics which are now beginning to play into special education. Nationally, fertility statistical ratios have declined for white women below the 2.1 per lifetime threshold, necessary for racial stability and replenishment in the population, see 1990 Census statistics. Jewish Women's fertility ratios are 1.5. White Women, in general, have fertility ratios of 1.7 from a high of 3.7 in 1957. Black Women's fertility ratios are 2.4. For Latino-American Women (especially including Mexican American women), the rates are 2.9. For Immigrant Women, the fertility ratios are 3.4. These fertility ratios are actually curving down for women born in the US but not for immigrant women. Continuing demographic changes mirror these fertility ratios. US Bureau of Census projections explicate demographic changes in about 25 years towards African-American, Latino, and immigrant population dominance over whites for the first time in the history of this country.
Fertility statistics are usually given out by the US Bureau of the Census and the UN Department of Statistics, see Worm Population Prospects, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1997 et al (Ben Wattenberg. Two Million Missing Babies. The New York Post, 29 October 1998, p. 39). The fertility rate reflects the "average number of children born per woman per lifetime" (Ben Wattenberg. Two Million Missing Babies. The New York Post, 29 October 1998, p. 39). The fertility rates in the LDCs (the Less Developed Countries) are as follows: 6.2 during 1965-1970, 3.0 1995-2000; In Brazil, it has gone from 6.2 to 2.3 close to the threshold for replacement;
In Europe, it was 1.83 in 1986-1990, it is 1.42 in 1995, 2.0 since 1996;
In Japan, the rate has stabilized at 1.43;
In Italy, it has stabilized at 1.2 for over two decades;
In the Czech Republic; it has stabilized around 1.19;
In Romania, 1.17;
In Spain, 1.15;
In Indonesia, from 5.6 in 1965-1990, to 2.6 1990-2000;
The replacement point is 2.1 (Ben Wattenberg. Two Million Missing Babies. The New York Post, 29 October 1998, p. 39). The fall in fertility rates in the LDC emigration countries has been due to recent global epidemics, such as AIDS, and rising poverty indices brought about by IMF and World Bank imposed Structural Adjustment Programs on these countries for transformation into open capital market economies.
In the US, the ratios of minority student population increases in general Education as well as for placements in Special Education are a mirror of these fertility modalities.
The comparative fertility statistics show increasing growths for minority and non-English speaking immigrant children in our public school system nationally in general and, in particular, growth and spill-over effects into Special Education in the manner in which societal factors have played out inappropriate minority referrals into Special Education across the nation.
The Republican party, in its politics and agenda (Contract on America, 1994 et al), appears belatedly to be dealing with this problem by imposting economic costs on the poor African-American and non-English immigrant underclass through welfare "reform," et al., in order to freeze and reverse these statistical ratios and maintain historic demographic patterns which have ensured Caucasian dominance; tactics which are reminiscent of Malthusianism and social Darwinism.
Immigrant Minority Children Over-Enrollment in Special Education By Language Proficiency
In terms of education, the immigrant fertility rates translate into a greater influx of immigrant children, primarily from the developing world, most notably from Latin American; of children from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, children from Haiti and from the rest of the Caribbean; from Asia, Korean children, Indian and Chinese children; into the US.
The high fertility ratios and the large numbers of children from these areas have intensified pressures in placements in the already crowded urban environments of the nation. Immigrant influx, into New York, California, Florida, texas, Chicago, has annually added 20,000 immigrant children to the nation's public school systems and created what has been characterized by Florida's Broward County Schools Superintendent Frank R. Petruzielo as "one of the largest unfunded mandates in the history of this country ... The Florida district has spent about $500 million educating immigrant youngsters over the past five years ... but only $1 million of that has come from federal funds earmarked for that purpose."
One of the problems of educating many of these immigrant children is their inability to communicate in English.
25% of Miami's Dade county districts' public school students were born outside the United States. This public school system now admits about 1,332 "foreign-born students" every month.
US Bureau of Census reports for 1996 show that there is a 40% increase in children who speak a language other than English at home since 1980.
Because of limited English proficiency, these immigrant children have added a new wrinkle and twist to Special Education classifications.
A Bilingual Special Education sector has now become institutionalized with its own bureaucracies and interests to defend.
Discussion & Conclusion We have shown that the causes of minority children's over-representation in special education are due to:
i. National and local budget crises which create situations of expedience for local bureaucracies and politicians. Budget declines tend to reduce kindergarten services for millions of "at-risk" preschool going children in the urban areas, intensifying on-going problems of social, psychological, historical and cultural alienation, and over-enrollment into Special Education. Poverty appears to be correlated with minority over-enrollment, and with sub-standard academic achievement test scores;
ii. Ineffective oversight and enforcement by the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education. there has been only 1 enforcement success out of 10,147 cases which have gone before this office since 1987, a success rate of .000098551296%, almost zero percent;
iii. High fertility ratios of minority and immigrant women; iv. The balanced budget movement in Congress led by Republicans, however attractive to tax payers, may actually tend to freeze or dismantle important social service programs and society's nets for millions of "at-risk" young children so that instead of such balanced budgets producing societal savings, they would tend to increase future social and economic costs through over-enrollment in Special Education for minority children;
v. Self-perpetuating Special Education bureaucracies which seek to maintain their own politico-economic interests and show an inclination to support increasing placements of minority children into Special Education because it benefits their economic interests.
vi. Schools which resolve their academic and national examinations' excellence problems by dumping minorities into Special Education.
vii. The absence of strong children's and minority parents' advocacy institutions to educate parents about alternatives to Special Education placement, re-assessment and "de-placement."
viii. Minority children tend to be placed into Special Education by "irrational" IQ tests. Nationally, more of these children are so placed without regard to Congressional and Court Mandates.
These are factors which may tend to intensify minority over-enrollment into Special Education. They must be addressed in order to assure compliance with Court and Congressional mandates.
Unless the nation has lost its will to reform Special Education relative to these factors, minority over-enrollment will greatly increase in the years to come.
To address these issues effectively, we must assume all children's services as fixed costs just in the manner in which Social Security services and entitlements for the nation's senior citizens are guaranteed by the federal government.
This would then insulate children's welfare agencies from the effects and extremes of national economic cycles. This means that funding formulae for Special Education must be maintained. Federal and state funding should be strictly channeled into Special Education for Early Intervention and kindergarten programs rather than towards fixing non-Special Education local budget shortfall crises.
We must re-assess the use of present IQ tests as a basis for placements in our public schools weighting an ecological, cultural, social, historic and environmental factor against innate abilities of children and, perhaps, raising present-day bell curve and symmetric distributional statistical limits of the 95% Confidence Interval by 2 Standard Deviations (SD) or by means of 2 Standard Errors of Measurement (SEM) to 99% Confidence Interval by 3 Standard Deviations (SD) or by 3 Standard Errors of Measurement (SEM) in order to spread IQ quantiles from 52 to 148 rather than from 68 to 132, assuming a mean IQ of 100 with 1 Standard Deviations of 16 so that children with mild disabilities may become "normalized" at 3 Standard Deviations or at 3 Standard Errors of Measurement quantiles, p [is less than] 0.01 rather than at p [is less than] 0.05; so that the mildly challenged may be "included" in regular education classrooms with minor referrals into Special Education.
The collection of statistical data on Special Education should be done with due diligence and not simply left to local bureaucracies which have self-serving interests to maintain.
From such data, the US Department of Education, Office of Schools Survey and Office of Civil Rights should be pressed to monitor compliance pertaining to minority children and their over-representation in Special Education.
Kindergarten facilities and resources should be increased in the urban areas to deal with the education of children from very poor economic and social environments, providing them with educable cultural reinforcers within their socio-cultural ecology with relationships to goals progressively entailed into higher expectations in the larger society.
Teacher training programs should be encouraged and funded with a focus on early intervention (birth to 3 years old) and should address issues and problems of poverty, bilingual education, multiculturalism, issues of drug and chemical exposal relative to young children with disabilities in order to prepare them for an inclusive school and larger environment.
Table 1 Black White Hispanic Retarded 26% 11% 18% Learning-Disabled 43% 51% 55% Emotionally Disturbed 8% 8% 4% Speech-Impaired 23% 30% 23%
Sources: US. News & World Report December 13, 1993, p. 54; Basic Source: US. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, 1990 Survey of Schools.
Table 2 Distribution of Minority Students in Special Education Relative to General Enrollment
General Special Education Ethnicity Enrollment EMR TMR Native American 0.9 0.9 0.9 Asian 2.8 0.6 1.8 Hispanic 9.9 5.2 9.6 African-American 16.1 35.2 27.4 All Minorities 29.6 41.9 39.7 Ethnicity SI SED LD ALL(5) Native American 1.0 0.7 1.2 1.3 Asian 1.8 0.5 1.0 1.5 Hispanic 7.7 7.2 10.0 10.1 African-American 16.1 26.8 16.8 25.1 All Minorities 26.6 35.2 28.9 38.0
Data Source: 1986 Elementary and Secondary School Civil Rights Survey, National Summaries. US Department of Education (prepared by DBS Corporation), December 1987. Last column in table, under "ALL(5)" is an extrapolation from the other figures in the original OCR table.
OCR=Office of Civil Rights
EMR=Educably Mentally Retarded
TMR=Trainably Mentally Retarded
SED=Severely Emotionally Disturbed
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STEPHEN AGBENYEGA & JOSEPH JIGGETTS Education The City College New York, New York 10031
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|Author:||AGBENYEGA, STEPHEN; JIGGETTS, JOSEPH|
|Article Type:||Statistical Data Included|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1999|
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