Decontextualizing School Disproportionality By Numbers

Yes, we agree that statistical analysis of the school population should be used as a guide to reducing the over-identification of non-disabled minority children. But alone it is another silly proposed technical solution making it easy for decision-makers to avoid the issue because they now have science at work.  This is a public policy issue, not a technique and training issue.

The problem of disproportionality has been identified for decades.  The law has been in place for years and years.  IDEA 2004 regulations are clear.  What is not discussed are the social and public policy contexts working off the page to mitigate solutions.

Risk Analysis
Risk index is proposed as a kind of silver bullet:

“The risk index is the percentage of a given racial/ethnic group that is in a specific category. Thus, for instance, if we find that 8% of all Latino students in a school corporation have been suspended, then we can say that Latino students in that school corporation have an 8% chance of being suspended. The risk index answers the question: What is the risk that students in a given group will be in a specific category?”

But measurement is fiddling while Rome is burning.

The chief problem of interpretation of disproportionality  — typically centered around black school children — is decontextualization of American education.  As though it exists in a utopian vacuum of precise methods and procedure.

Fundamental Cause

Black children are misplaced in special education because historically  mainstream Americans do not like black children in schools.  School personnel are tacit supporters of this de facto policy.

Think back on the Civil War.  George Wallace and the schoolhouse door. Jim Crow laws.  Brown versus the Board of Education.  Forced busing.  The historical markers are there for all to read.

“Brown v. Board of Education347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmarkUnited States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Fergusondecision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation.”  Wikipedia

If you are forced to take black children into your school, then the next best solution is to put them in special education indefinitely and maybe call them retarded.

No, complex measurement schemes simply postpone attention to the problem of changing knowledge, attitudes and actions.

blow up chair in cottage

School superintendents are the IDEA legal officers who need to take responsibility for the problem.  They are typically paid well, educated in school law, have the authority and can act to initiate special projects.

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