Advice to Teachers

Special Education Resources for General Education in 2008 provides lots of information about the overidentification and special problems of minority children in education and how teachers can help reduce the problem. Here’s a sample:

“While students’ difficulties with learning can be caused by students’ disabilities, there are many other reasons why students might experience difficulties in school. These reasons include the general school curriculum not sufficiently addressing the needs of children from diverse backgrounds, stressful home situations, an inadequate general curriculum, poor prior instruction, or language differences. As a teacher, it is important to consider whether the difficulties a child may be experiencing in your classroom are the result of a learning disability or if the difficulties may stem from other causes such as the child’s lack of prior learning experiences” (Serge).

Good advice! We now know there is a gap in general education that special education has been filling. Special education has become a remedial service in part. Special education personnel should not admit non-disabled children just because general education lacks programs.

There is also a need for teacher awareness when it comes to misplacing at-risk children in special education:

“Whenever a disproportionate number of students are identified from specific populations of students as having disabilities, this group is “over-represented.” This issue has been of great concern for many years and touches on many elements of educational practice, from the referral process for special education, to the instructional strategies used by teachers, to our beliefs about poverty, race and culture.”

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