Monthly Archives: December 2011

U. S. Committee on Education and the Workforce

When we think about special education over-identification of at-risk school children, we must think about higher levels of government policy-making and their effects on local education all the way down to the IEP TEAMS.  We need foundational knowledge of how our government operates to address disproportional representations of minority children.  We make the case that EXCLUSION of  undesirable children from mainstream classrooms is the historical pattern followed by government.  The techniques have been many.

Ms. Shah of Education Week points out the need to reduce the over-identification of black school children. “While African Americans make up approximately 17 percent of public school enrollment, they account for 31 percent of students identified as having mental retardation or intellectual disabilities, 28 percent of students labeled as having an emotional disturbance, and 21 percent of students who have learning disabilities. Some of these categories aren’t pure medical diagnoses, calling judgment, and perhaps bias, into play.”   When black children are put in special education, they’re excluded from ordinary school experiences.

Girl Scouts Marching on Main Street.

Committee on Education and the Workforce

The Committee on Education and the Workforce is central, a committee whose mission is described on-line in companion websites, operated by the  two principal political parties. In 2011, there is no independent member.  The Committee is situated in the House of Representatives.   The history of the committee is stated as follows:

“The current Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democrats was established on January 5, 2011. The Committee’s basic jurisdiction is over education and labor matters, generally.

The first Committee of jurisdiction, the Committee on Education and Labor was established on March 21, 1867 in the aftermath of the Civil War and the growth of American industry. On December 19, 1883, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democrats was divided into two standing committees: Committee on Education and Committee on Labor. On January 2, 1947, the Legislative Reorganization Act again combined the Committees, renamed the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democrats. On January 4, 1995, the Committee was renamed the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities. On January 7, 1997, the Committee was renamed the Committee on Education and the Workforce. On January 4, 2007, the Committee adopted its original name: the Committee on Education and Labor. Finally, the Committee was renamed the Committee on Education and the Workforce once again on January 5, 2011.” 

“While Congress has been concerned over education and workforce issues since its beginning, attempts to create a Committee with jurisdiction over education and labor failed in early Congresses due to Representatives’ concern over the constitutional grounds for such a federal role and the belief that education was more properly the responsibility of the states.”

A Facebook page states: “The Education and Labor Committee’s purpose is to ensure that Americans’ needs are addressed so that students and workers may move forward in a changing school system and a competitive global economy.”

Hearings in 2011:


Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – 428 Senate Dirksen Office Building Washington, DC 20510

“The committee began in 1869 as the Committee on Education and in 1884 through the mid-1900s it was known as the Education and Labor Committee.  In 1999, then Chairman James Jeffords of Vermont, worked to officially name it the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.”

For years Senator Edward Kennedy was a key member of the Committee notably involved in education reform.  “Senator Kennedy was Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.”  He was instrumental in passage of IDEA 2004.

In 2011, hearings were held on the renewal of NCLB, the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act.  National Public Radio has provided a critique of the issues at hand.

“S.541 — Achievement Through Prevention Act (Introduced in Senate – IS)

S 541 IS

112th CONGRESS, 1st SessionS. 541

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools to increase implementation of schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports and early intervening services in order to improve student academic achievement, reduce overidentification of individuals with disabilities, and reduce disciplinary problems in schools, and to improve coordination with similar activities and services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

Professor Robert N. Barger brought forth posts as late as 2004 on selected topics in American education, developed cooperatively with his students.  Highlighted is the “Progressive Period” of  American education.  Tonjia Miller wrote on the influence of business on education from 1880 to 1920.

“During the progressive period American business and industry rapidly expanded. Along with the increase in business and industry came an increase in the amount of immigrants entering the United States. Mr. Friedrich Winslow Taylor helped the expansion of industry with the “efficiency movement.” This movement was basically concerned with making the factories more efficient in producing more with less cost, effort and material.

The schools were influenced by this efficiency movement. The school was viewed essentially as a workplace and learning was perceived in terms of productivity. The amount of children that were immigrating to the United States with their families increased as well. Elwood Cubberly, a turn-of the century historian, stated that schools should be like factories. Referring to the teachers as the factory workers and the students as the raw material to be turned into the product which was to meet the specifications of the needs of the 20th century.

Cubberly believed that the public schools’ mission was to assimilate the new immigrants into a nation that would remain English speaking and thinking. He was quoted as saying that Public Schooling would implant “The Anglo Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and popular government” into the immigrant children. The children who could not be processed to completion were considered as scraps. Therefore they were considered to be dropped out of the production line which is where we get our most accurate definition of “drop outs.”

Due to the large family size of the immigrant families most parents wanted to send children into the work force instead of school. These families wanted to benefit from the income they would receive if more of the family worked. This lead to the Compulsory Attendance and the Child Labor Laws. The Compulsory Attendance laws were mandated by each individual state to ensure that the immigrant children were in school receiving an education and not working in industry.”

Thus the U. S. government maintains a confounded philosophy of what schools are supposed to do, and as year-to-year elected officials come along their positions are naturally  conflicted. Many political leaders, however, studied the classics, represented by the “Great  Books” tradition.  The purpose of education is to promote education for education sake, for an “enlightened citizenry.”  Former secretary of education William Bennett advocated classic lessons and moral training.

Yet  contemporary policy-makers hold views consistent with Taylor’s management principles despite the fact that manufacturing is in decline in the U. S.:

“It is the writer’s judgment, then, that while much can be done and should be done by writing and talking toward educating not only workmen, but all classes in the community, as to the importance of obtaining the maximum output of each man and each machine, it is only through the adoption of modern scientific management that this great problem can be finally solved. “

Oddly, policy makers admire Steve Job’s career for intellectual range and creativity but in this post industrial era they continue to promote skills development in the government schools.  The Imac sold because it was also a beautiful piece of plastic art.

Possibly, special education children are kept away from the regular classroom because they do not contribute to economic outcomes.  There was the, … Anglo Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and popular government” implanted into the immigrant children. The children who could not be processed to completion were considered as scraps. Therefore they were considered to be dropped out of the production line which is where we get our most accurate definition of “drop outs.”  So one might guess over placement is an economic strategy to improve economic efficiency.

One is reminded of Pink Floyd’s (1979), Another Brick in the Wall:

We don’t need no education

We don’t need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teacher leave them kids alone

Hey teacher leave them kids alone

All in all your just another brick in the wall

All in all you’re just another brick in the wall


Why Do Special Educators Allow Over-identification?

Our experience posting on special education over-identification of at-risk

children has exposed a deep paradox simple to state.

Lupe Posada, signed. "Day of the Dead Woman."

Paradox:  Special educators complain about teaching overloads but

continue to over-admit non-disabled children.  

Go figure!



I’m not sure about how things work where you are, but, as a former Special Education teacher, I know that it wasn’t us who were “admiting” non-special education students into our programs. I had very little to say in the whole process – the higher ups who did the testing made the final decisions. The push for that testing always came from regular classroom teachers. Basically, we were made aware the process was going, were told why and then were told if we had a new student or not.

  • schoolspeechpathology On December 30, 2011 at 5:59 am

    This is my personal experience as well. However, special education teachers are still responsible for their signatures on IEP forms. In cases of LD, they can indicate disapproval. In all cases, they can comment at meetings. Each IEP member is responsible for eligibility determinations. Great comment. Thanks. JMP

Educators Help Wikipedia for Knowledge Sake

“From Wikipedia author Susan Hewitt

Ever wonder how Wikipedia can cover so many topics so well?Ever since I was a girl, I’ve been a total nerd about seashells and snails. I’d bring home all sorts of creatures. My mother wasn’t too thrilled. I’ve contributed to hundreds of articles about gastropods. Now multiply that by 100,000 editors. That’s how we got to 15 million articles.For this to keep working, we volunteers need a stable infrastructure on which to work: servers, tech staff, a legal team to protect our independence and more.Wikipedia is the #5 website in the world, but its infrastructure is maintained by a small non-profit — all paid for by donations, just individuals giving $5, $20 or $50. Please pitch in.Wikipedia works because there’s this unspoken light inside all of us that comes from the desire to help educate, to help share knowledge. And that’s what makes Wikipedia so magical.

If you stop and think for even a second, you’ll realize how fabulous it is to get this information without a paywall, and to not have to read ads. It’s like a voice of sanity in a crazy, consumerist world.

If you benefit from Wikipedia, please consider kicking in at least a small amount of cash to support it if you can.


Susan Hewitt

Wikipedia Author”


Market in Paris.

In the Digital Age

Wikipedia co-founder, Larry Sanger, states in his article,[3] that “Professionals are no longer needed for the bare purpose of the mass distribution of information and the shaping of opinion.” Sanger’s article confronts the existence of “common knowledge” and pits it against knowledge that everyone agrees on.

In terms of democratization of knowledge, Wikipedia has played a major role. For instance, Wikipedia has attracted 400 million viewers across the globe and has communicated with them in over 270 languages.”