Category Archives: Over-identification Background

Assorted posts on assorted topics for disproportionality and over identification.

25. ASHA: Out of the Silo Into the Light

The ASHA Board of Directors has the authority to straighten out the curriculum mess. It can facilitate creation of thoughtful proposals for change at the academic centers.

“4.1.2. The Board of Directors is the single governing body of the Association and shall actively promote the objectives of the Association, operating in accordance with and administering and implementing the programs and policies established by these Bylaws and by the Board of Directors. Members of the Board of Directors are elected to serve by and are accountable to the members of the Association.” (Bylaws)

The ASHA Board of Directors has the authority to reorganize The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) for modern curriculum development and change at the academic centers.

“4.9.1. The Board of Directors may establish and dissolve standing committees, boards, councils, ad hoc committees, working groups, and other entities necessary to conduct the Association’s business, and designate and change their charges and determine their size, member qualifications, and terms.

The ASHA President has the authority to see that the Board of Directors advances curriculum change at the academic centers.

“The President serves as the chair of the Board of Directors. The President ensures that the Board of Directors fulfills its responsibilities for the governance of the Association.”

The ASHA Board of Directors has the authority to direct the professional staff to facilitate curriculum change at the academic centers.

“7.2.1. The Chief Executive Officer shall be appointed by the Board of Directors and shall serve at the pleasure of the Board. The Chief Executive Officer serves as the chief administrative officer of the Association. The Chief Executive Officer monitors work assigned to the National Office staff and provides periodic reports to the Board of Directors.”

The ASHA Board of Directors has the authority to reorganize the Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council so members actively participate in curriculum change at the academic centers.

“5.1. An Audiology Advisory Council and a Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council shall be established to identify and discuss issues of concern to members and provide advice to the Board of Directors.”

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Re-identification of the Special Education Over-identification Problem

In 1994 the New York Times reported on how school financial resources were being eaten up by the over-identification of children for special education.  The article was written by San Dillon.  The article pinpoints the issues still facing us in 2012:

“Although the system was intended to help children with special needs, myriad complaints are being leveled by parents, academic researchers and other critics. They say the system mislabels thousands of children, segregating many in dead-end classes from which few are ever released. They say it uses legions of psychologists and social workers to administer endless evaluations of marginal worth at tremendous cost. They say that some teachers focus more on behavior control than on instruction, and that some principals bully parents who resist shunting their children into special education.”

A lingering question is how often do we need to identify the problem before regulatory agencies adequately fix it?  One way “the system” avoids the problem is to re-identify it with astonishment ever 10 years or so, like it is something new!

“Oh My God!  Disproportionality is bad!”

Reauthorization of IDEA will come, and journalists will again be reporting on it with astonishment.  The problem has been known for 50 years.

Grading Decision-Makers for Special Education Disproportionality

In a prior post we gave suggested grades for decision-makers as to the  mis-placement of at-risk children  in special education.  Our work is progressing and it shows there is a vertical chain of decision-makers from the U.S. President down to your local school IEP team.  Misplacement affects NON-DISABLED MINORITY CHILDREN CRITICALLY.  It’s a shame to put struggling children in special education when thoughtful remedial programs suffice.

The historic analysis thus far shows that education professionals are incapable of correcting the problem of disproportionality without  strong legal actions by Congress, attorneys and federal courts.  Academics contribute to best practice but their work does not penetrate public debates.  School superintendents for IDEA jurisdictions are key to reform.  They have the power to act.

Stop sign along country road.

The more one becomes familiar with the history of special education over-identification (including disproportionality) the more one sees the anemic efforts made by private and public institutions.  The problem should not be regarded as a current “hot topic.”  It is a neglected topic, even ignored.

For example, Edward Fergus, writing for Essential Educator (http://essential educator.org/), ”Distinguishing Difference from Disability: The Common Causes of Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education,” reports:

“Since Lloyd Dunn’s report (1968) on the overrepresentation of Black and Latino students in special education countless federal, state and district reports, as well as research studies exist that document the various facets of educational practice impacting these rates. Most recently the over-representation picture is troubling:  in 2008, the school enrollment of Blacks (15.5%) differed greatly from their representation in special education (20.4%) and among students with an Emotional Disturbance classification (29.1%); while enrollment of Whites (55.5%) was mirrored in special education (55.9%) and among students with an ED classification (56.3%).”

We pay decision makers good money to address these historic problems and make them right.  Let’s give some suggested grades based on what we are seeing in 2011.

Grades

College Instructors:  D-.  Classroom instruction comes up short.  After 40 years we should be seeing more leadership from education to sort out misidentification.

Principals:  B-.  Manage an enormous volume of work and will help improve special education when asked.  Often do not have enough authority to make changes. Poor managers of Title 1 programs.

Attorneys:  C+.  Despite public suspicion, attorneys bring rational thinking to special education policies.  They support parents and disseminate legal opinions. Important cases brought to the courts have changed education for the better.

Congress:  B+.  IDEA 97 turned the corner and put in place the equipment needed for equal opportunity in education.  Light on workable solutions, however. For example, recommendations to train teachers seldom work, and money has provided “perverse incentives.”

Related Services Personnel:  F.  Too busy getting to the next appointment.  Failure to take on roles in education.

General Education (SEA):   F.  Dropped the ball on title 1 programs, turning out to be ineffective for providing remedial support, while allowing over-referral to special education programs. 

Cabinet:  D.  Our presidents and secretaries of education have jaw boned too little on the subject of over-identification.  The “culture of compliance” has continued without innovation in total special education management.  

Parent Groups:  B-.  They keep special education issues in front of the public eye but favor special education as a substitute for general education remediation.  They do not worry enough about stigmas of placement and least restrictive environment nearly enough.

Special Education Directors:  D+.  Do a difficult job efficiently but typically lack adequate knowledge for the complexities at hand.  Fall into the compliance game to satisfy state auditors.  Are over-shadowed by other school administrators in general education.

State Governments (SEAs):  D-.  Wide variation in performance state-to-state but overall not much push for substantive change in special education beyond what is expected of them. Sometimes cause more problems than they are worth.

School Psychology:  D-.  Does try to quantify behaviors, but ends up with invalid instruments for classifying learning disabled children and lending support to the growth of  the emotional disturbance category where misplacement abounds.  Some positive signs for reducing over-identification now.  

Local Superintendents:  C-.  They do try to implement laws as they come down to them and this helps at-risk children but they get caught up in money issues and community pressures.  

Curriculum Directors:  F.  Failure to  show up.  Leave superintendents twisiting in the wind.

State Legislatures:  F.  Do not seem to know much about education and special education policies.    

Advocacy Organizations:  I.  Difficult to separate out their agendas, some of which are tied to political positions.  As non-profit organizations they have built in conflicts of interest, too many masters to serve.

Citizen Tax Payers.  D-.  But how can they know when schools lack transparency? When they care, they are great.  Parents of handicapped children must be admired.

Department of Education:  C.  Yes, they do form the regulations and do some spot reinforcement but put very little force behind curbing misidentification.  Too insular and passive.

Professional Organizations:  D-.  Are in the bind of having to protect jobs for their graduates.  They too suffer from conflicting goals brought on by their non-profit status.

Medical doctors:  B+.  Still a solid link in the system of judgment and placement. They often lack follow up skills to help handicapped children pull through and do not have a clue about education assessment.

Journalists:  D+.  Difficult to generalize because of major news investigations but very little cultural memory for this recurring problems.  The New York Times is an exception, with its excellent archives.   Local news organizations are too caught up in news cycles and fad issues.  Don’t say, “Didn’t this happen last year?”

Teachers:  C+. They have the spirit and the competence but are overly compliant because of heavy work demands.  Their problem is they are all too willing to ship mis-fit kids off to special education, a kind of “get them out of my hair” approach.

Clerical:  I.  Contribute to the compliance problem but are badly needed and often are very helpful.  Lack perspectives on their important jobs in education and can’t see beyond clerical deadlines.

School Boards.  D+.  Have a difficult job given their knowledge, time and community pressures. They rely on the professionals for good advice and often do not get it.

Websites Authors:  D-.  Preoccupied by procedural issues and the “how to.”  Difficult to assess.  Lack follow up and conclusive accomplishments.

Academic / Scholars:  B.  Scholars write helpful papers forming an archive overcoming historical shortsightedness.  Archival research is the only protection we have against political repetition and impulsivity.  

Comment

“Grading” only serves to pinpoint responsibilities in the chain of decision-makers who can do something about over-placement and over-retention of at-risk American school children but drop the ball.   We rely on the good sense of Linda Schrock Taylor to remind us of the stark facts:

“So, do not underestimate the strength of this black hole, and the power of federal monies – education and Medicaid – to create and sustain the energy force that entraps and holds these children. Do notice how few honest steps are taken to bring about real reform – ones that would actually, and effectively, educate American children in general, and special education students, in particular. The most shocking and inexcusable aspect of the pretense, the mouth-service, given to “accountability,” is the dearth of professionals who actively attempt to get students OUT of Special Education. Few see any value in specifically structuring special education programs towards ‘repairing’ and releasing children; few feel any urge to commend an exiting child; few see the importance of choosing curriculum and methods that would prevent the need for such programs in the first place.“

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 40 years to pull up our grades to passing marks.”

Regulation of IDEA and Special Education Overidentification

Our site seeks to reduce unnecessary placements in school special education programs, informing the public and advocating for improved practices among school personnel.  We seek to understand the regulatory process aimed at implementing IDEA 2004 in all schools, big or small, urban or rural, private or public, coast-to-coast.  So far, we have pinpointed causes and solutions to a reasonable extent. Solutions to protect FAPE for all school children are within reach.  Denial, apathy, ignorance and prejudice are surmountable obstacles.

We urge appreciation of the great strides made since 1975 when the U. S. Congress took hold of guaranteeing equal rights for all school children.

IDEA regulation begins with the U. S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.  It is a cabinet-level agency of the U. S. GOVERNMENT.  On the White House website we have this explanation of the Cabinet:

“The tradition of the Cabinet dates back to the beginnings of the Presidency itself. Established in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.”

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet

 “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment

http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A2Sec2.html

We respect the public service of Linda Schrock Taylor:

 “Recent news articles have discussed the possibility that two black holes might collide in a few million years. Although an interesting concept, this potential danger pales in the face of a real ‘black hole’ – that of SPECIAL EDUCATION. Every year, thousands of our children disappear into the vagueness of special placements, never to be released from the labels and stigma; never to escape and again be seen as ‘normal.’ Many teachers must notice this engulfing, this entrapment, of our children; some teachers must surely strive to defeat this grave and senseless closure on potential; but the problem is rarely mentioned or discussed.”

Describing Special Education Over-identification

Still under construction

One encounters hundreds of  internet articles on over-identification not easily generalized for the broader view.  Here we begin to define terms, variables and issues in support of the broader view.  Description of the problem is essential. Theories explain and predict.

The Kennedy family advocated for retarded citizens. This is Mrs. Kennedy. Her husband was President John Kennedy, and he too advocated for rights of children.

IDEA 2004 STANDARDS

IDEA 2004 sets clear standards for proper identification of at-risk children for placement in special education.  The flow of regulations is downward from congress, the executive branch, the supreme court, the department of education, state agencies to superintendents.  The local superintendent represents the Local Educational Agency (LEA) to the State Educational Agency (SEA).  IEP teams make placement decisions and parents approve or disapprove.  Teams consist of evaluators, regular classroom teachers, related services personnel, special education teachers and parents.  Facilitators guide decision-making on behalf of the LEA.

http://ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html

Appropriate Identification

Placing disabled school children in special education who meet placement criteria, on a case-by-case basis, with reference to IDEA categories, Child Find requirements, and FAPE regulations.  

Well prepared eligibility teams understand IDEA requirements and take time for objective decisions.  The district facilitator has strong background in the law, group dynamics, community norms and staff qualifications. The director of special education monitors placements for fairness and accuracy.  Children are placed and retained in special  education by IEP (eligibility) teams.  They listen to evaluation reports by teachers, psychologists, doctors and speech-language pathologists.  The criteria are clinical and educational.  Teacher reports emphasize academic performance.  Official  paperwork is filled out, signed and kept  on file.  The team can say no to admission.  In over 100,000 American schools, millions of IEP meetings are held yearly.

Multiple Identifications
Placing disabled children in more than one IDEA category for  parallel or collaborative interventions.
Many children placed in special education have symptoms of different disabilities, such as TBI pupils needing physical therapy and speech-language pathology, or intellectually challenged pupils needing occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and sight intervention.  The IEP reflects the selection of services from different specialists.  Dismissal from one category eligibility does not preclude continuation in another. Children are dismissed from the speech and language impairment while specific learning disability status continues.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Identification

Placing disabled children in learning situations appropriate in location, intensity and peer access.

The location can include the regular classroom with support, resource room, the speech room, or off-campus facility.  Intensity concerns the amount of treatment time assigned to any one category intervention.  Peer access concerns the amount of time spent with children who are not enrolled in special education.  IEPs show which specialists provides services.  The well-prepared IEP team recognizes the wisdom of constant re-assessment of LRE placements.

Continuing Identification

Continuing  placement in special education to sustain and improve academic performance through one or more interventions.

Where one or more interventions do not mitigate effects of one or more disabilities, and where reaching education goals has fallen short, special education status can be renewed.  Each year the IEP team meets to deliberate on the success of the educational plan.  There must be one evaluator (psychologist, reading specialist or speech-language pathologist) present to report on disability indications. Special education teachers confirm progress or the lack thereof. Special education children can be renewed for another year of selected services as recorded on the adjusted IEP form.  Extra meetings can be held during the year if questions arise.  Three-year evaluation is required.  Well-prepared IEP teams promote dismissal from special education in timely fashion.

CATEGORY DETERMINATIONS

Canada

DISTORTION OF IDEA 2004  STANDARDS

In local school IEP meetings the foregoing IDEA standards are distorted in application:  “Distortion, a statement that twists fact; a misrepresentation” (Free Dictionary).  On IEP forms, and in oral comments, disability characteristics are misrepresented.  IDEA category criteria and FAPE regulations are violated by the collaborative actions of  IEP teams.  The U. S. Office of Civil Rights documents violations of  children’s rights:  “An important responsibility of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability against students with disabilities. OCR receives numerous complaints and inquiries in the area of elementary and secondary education involving Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Section 504). Most of these concern identification of students who are protected by Section 504 and the means to obtain an appropriate education for such students.

http://ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html

Several types of misidentification are suggested by our findings. There are many ways in which IDEA standards are violated with respect to the education of “struggling children.”

Inappropriate Identification

Placing children in special education who are not disabled or who need only remedial support via general education programs, thereby violating FAPE  protections.

“Inappropriate” means decisions violating IDEA 2004 eligibility regulations.  The IEP teams place non-disabled children, make careless LRE decisions, or fail to dismiss in timely fashion.  Contacts with normal peers are limited.  Statistical observations indicate IEP panels place more children than is justified by IDEA 2004 standards.  “An analysis of U.S. Department of Education data shows that the percentage of students in special education varies widely among states. While Rhode Island tops the country at 18 percent, Texas, at 9 percent, is at the bottom. The average percentage across all states is 13 percent, and two-thirds of states are above that number, according to the data.”

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/01/25/state-special-education-rates/14849/

Girl Scouts Marching on Main Street.

Over-Identification

Placing school children in special education at a rate higher than justified by disability criteria and statistical norms.

The most recent example is the over-identification of  learning disabled children.  Many vulnerable children who do not fit into the regular classroom are referred to special education for need of ordinary remedial services.  Boys are over-identified compared to girls.  Deficiencies in general education remedial instruction are central to the problem.  Hispanic children who lack English language abilities can show up in special education because school administrators do not know how to provide second-language programs.

Under-Identification

Not placing disabled children in special education who are entitled to placement at least by statistical norms.

Girls are less often identified for special education.  Most teachers are women and therefore a bias might operate.  For years autistic children were under-identified considering current trends indicating a growing number of  autistic children in special education.  TBI pupils involved in sports programs might be under-identified.

Disproportional Identification

Placing non-disabled minority children in special education with reference to the proportions of such groups in the school district.  

Historic patterns of blocking minority children from school attendance continue to operate in schools.  Shunting into special education became another means of  isolating minority children from mainstream children.   The patterns have included abuses of  IDEA provisions of Least Restrictive Environment for special education instruction. The tendency to keep children enrolled indefinitely without dismissal and adjustments in LEA is rampant.  Members of IEP teams often carry out misplacements unwittingly, or seek to please school authorities while remaining mute about misidentification.  The problem nationally has been known since the 1960s.  Black children are particularly vulnerable.  

Substitute Identification

Substituting special education placement for general education remedial support.

Many “struggling children” including those who are “poor” and “disadvantaged” need remedial support along the lines of Title I programs.  These programs have failed for many children.  Regular education teachers do not have teaching skills suitable for matching up with learning styles and needs.  Or general education teachers are over-taxed by difficult-to-teach children in their classrooms.  General education takes advantage of sending struggling children to special education where skilled remedial teaching is available.  The children suffer the stigma of special education placement along with lowered educational expectations.  Where Response to Intervention programs have been established, fewer children are enrolled in special education. 

False Identification

Placing disabled children in the wrong special education placement categories.

The best known example is placing low-performing children in the special education category for retarded pupils.  Black children faced this school pattern as a true civil rights concern.  Placing gifted children in the learning disability category because of learning style differences is documented.  Categories of Disability under IDEA 

Mis-Timed Identification

Placing children in special  education who should have  been placed at earlier times, or later times beginning with preschool education.

IDEA covers Part C for children up to the third birthday, and Part B for school-age children, including preschoolers  (http://www.nichcy.org/schoolage).  As at-risk children pass through the developmental years into formal education, wide-ranging assessment protocols produce irregular data and placement decisions.  Placements in Part C programs based on medical and behavioral assessments cause the placements to carry forward into the elementary school as experts wait to see how “progress in the general curriculum” advances.  Other children are not identified under Part C and move forward without remedial support.  In a different category, Traumatic Brain Injury pupils are identified late because they are not referred for evaluations.

Insufficient Identification

Placing children in special education where placement evaluations are incomplete and / or  irrelevant to the general education curriculum.

This is a subtle type.  It concerns the transition to elementary school and identification during the preschool years.  Often medical personnel identify disability and indicate the need for special education services before local schools evaluate for placement.  IEP teams go along with early judgments without consideration of educational criteria.  This involves the “wait to fail” problem.

Forced Identification

Placing  at-risk children in special education because of legal and / or pressures on school district administrators.

Courts, attorneys, local advocates, school authorities and parents can all bring strong pressures on IEP teams to make alternate placement determinations.  Court cases have   shaped decisions about particular children, or numbers of children in a class.  Strong-willed parents through knowledge, skill and legal appears bring about changes not otherwise made.  Superintendents push on special education personnel to place more or fewer children in special education by using budget considerations as ad hoc criteria.  Special education pupils can refuse to be in special education.

Recurrent Misidentification

In spite of IEP meetings, keeping children in special education year after year without dismissal and without meaningful adjustments for least restrictive environment.

This amounts to what has been called historically, “Warehousing.”  On a grand scale,  the Supreme Court’s establishing FAPE rights forced local schools into a process of adherence to Least Restrictive Environment.  Parent advocacy groups such as the ARC forced the issue.  On a lesser scale, the problem remains at full intensity. Many schools still keep children in the same IEP straight-jacket for years, even “carrying paper” on them when services are no longer needed.  Many parents, too, will not let their children out of special education. Failing to dismiss promptly is a major problem in special education.  Warehousing is a  negative global attitude to all aspects of testing for special education determination.

http://www.uiowa.edu/~c07p224/abstracts/IDEA_and_overidentification.htm

FRONT-LOADED BIAS VS BACK-LOADED BIAS

First determination of special education placement is the point at which Front-Loaded Bias comes into play.  It accounts for national statistics showing American schools are biased toward the over-identification of at-risk children for special education services and interventions.  Specific learning disability is commonly mentioned as the prime example.  The U. S. courts and the U. S. Congress have brought this problem to public attention and have pushed the U. S. Department of Education into regulatory actions to reduce over-identification.  Disproportional placements of non-disabled minority children continue to receive some discussion nationally.

Back-Loaded Bias in contrast is continuing to inflexibly keep children in special education even when they are non-disabled, and continuing to let their LRE placements languish from year to year.  Here the courts, congress and the department of education pay little or no attention to what might be called the “unintended consequences” of IDEA regulations. Parents believe it is best for their children to be in special education and when they object IEP teams push back.  Academics are unable to do site-based studies of the statistical patterns of long-term identifications. Pressure to ignore the 3-year evaluation sustains the problem.   Minority students such as native American and black children become long-term victims of back loaded bias.  In some states and in some schools such results are disgraceful.

CAUSES OF OVER-IDENTIFICATION

Any explanation of over-identification must start with questions of why engineering efforts to rectify the problem have little impact over many, many years.  Amy Zirkelbach writing in 2002 laid out the problem nicely:  ”

“Concerns about the overidentification of ethnic and culturally diverse students in special education first gained national attention in the 1960s as civil rights advocates, educators, administrators, and policy makers began raising questions about the overrepresentation of minority students in classes for the mentally retarded. To a great extent, disproportionate placement still remains today. Although the problems varies from state to state and region to region, it is seen as an ongoing national problem which may result in students who are unserved, misclassified or inappropriately labeled, or receive services that do not meet their needs. Disproportionate placement of these students into special education classes may be seen as a form of discrimination.”

http://www.uiowa.edu/~c07p224/abstracts/IDEA_and_overidentification.htm

American Speech-Language Pathology and Black School Children

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association needs to take a strong public stand against the over-identification of non-disabled minority children, particularly black children and bilingual children.  There should be a clear policy statement rather than random news items.  Global summaries about “multiculturalism” are empty.  School SLPs continue to over-place non-disabled children because of linguistic and cultural differences they confuse with disability. Current advisory statements lack focus and proper applications to reduce placement errors according to IDEA 2004.  University clinics should incorporate proper procedures into clinical experiences, and special education status should be a clinical consideration.  Courses should contain specific decision-making placement criteria for accurate assessment to protect FAPE.  The profession needs to take action!  The treatment of black children is a national disgrace and all professional groups need to make that different.

School SLPs can make the excuse this is an “emerging issue.”  The problem is well documented as an historical fact.  Edward Fergus, writing for Essential Educator (http://essential educator.org/), ”Distinguishing Difference from Disability: The Common Causes of Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education,” reports:

“Since Lloyd Dunn’s report (1968) on the overrepresentation of Black and Latino students in special education countless federal, state and district reports, as well as research studies exist that document the various facets of educational practice impacting these rates….”

Now we receive this troubling report:  “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.”

http://blogs.edweek.org/ edweek/speced/2012/01/a_new_initiative_hopes_to.html

Amy Zirkelbach writing in 2002 laid out the problem nicely:

“Concerns about the overidentification of ethnic and culturally diverse students in special education first gained national attention in the 1960s as civil rights advocates, educators, administrators, and policy makers began raising questions about the overrepresentation of minority students in classes for the mentally retarded. To a great extent, disproportionate placement still remains today. Although the problems varies from state to state and region to region, it is seen as an ongoing national problem which may result in students who are unserved, misclassified or inappropriately labeled, or receive services that do not meet their needs. Disproportionate placement of these students into special education classes may be seen as a form of discrimination.”

ASHA directors need to pay attention to this part:  “Although the problems varies from state to state and region to region, it is seen as an ongoing national problem which may result in students who are unserved, misclassified or inappropriately labeled, or receive services that do not meet their needs.”

A starting point might be for every SLI school child enrolled in a university speech and hearing program in which students receive clinical clock hours for service have an IEP on file and integrated with clinical decision-making supervision.

 


U. S. Department of Education

“In 1980, Congress established the Department of Education as a Cabinet level agency. Today, ED operates programs that touch on every area and level of education. The Department’s elementary and secondary programs annually serve nearly 14,000 school districts and some 56 million students attending roughly 99,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools. Department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to more than 15 million postsecondary students….”

The Department is a regulatory body, publishing regulations for education practices.  Regulation traces from the president to the secretary and down the line.  Here is a 2012 example:

The Obama administration today released a broad set of rules to strengthen federal student aid programs at for-profit, nonprofit and public institutions by protecting students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, providing consumers with better information about the effectiveness of career college and training programs, and ensuring that only eligible students or programs receive aid.

These new rules will help ensure that students are getting from schools what they pay for: solid preparation for a good job,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.”

http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/role.html

IDEA 2004

The Department publishes a report on the implementation of IDEA.  “This report was produced under U.S. Department of Education Contract No. ED06CO0062 with New Editions Consulting, Inc. Rosa E. Olmeda served as the contracting officer’s representative.  The current report is the “30th Annual Report to Congress on the  Implementation of the  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2008.”  The report is distributed by levels of regulatory offices.

Secretary of Education

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)

Director of the Office of Special Education Programs

“Prior to 1975, educational opportunities for handicapped children were haphazard, and, more often, nonexistent. Congress tried to assist the States, but these efforts proved unsatisfactory. To help the States respond more effectively, Congress passed the Education For All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EHA) to assure that every handicapped child received a “free appropriate public education.”

University of Puget Sound Law Review [Vol. 7:183] 

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.  

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2012/01/a_new_initiative_hopes_to.html

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.”

http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/about/history-jurisdiction 

“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.”

http://edworkforce.house.gov/Committee/

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.”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/United-States-House-Committee-on-Education-and-the-Workforce/135660126464255?sk=wiki

Hearings in 2011:   http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.

cgi?dbname=112_house_hearings&docid=f:64229.wais

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.

http://tedkennedy.org/biography

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.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18432881

“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.”


 COMMENTS ON PHILOSOPHY
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.”

http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bennett

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. “

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1911taylor.html

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

Prevention of Over-identification: 112th Congress

It is heartening to see all proposals to reduce the isolation of children in schools, as we have pointed out, dating back to the beginnings of Compulsory Education, moving forward through the end of JIM CROW laws, to IDEA 2004. Critical is an understanding of the hidden historical conditions bringing out yet again another version of the same issue — excluding difficult to teach children from schoolrooms. There is a continuing emergency here. It is not fair to black Americans in particular. We know enough about disproportionality to make excellent decisions.

 ***

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.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

 March 10, 2011

Mr. BENNET (for himself, Mr. ALEXANDER, Mr. FRANKEN, and Mr. BURR) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

 ***

Confirmation of the need for behavioral supports comes from the Texas study, “Breaking Schools’ Rules,” reported on by National Public Radio, July 19, 2011.  

 

http://www.npr.org/2011/07/19/138495061/report-details-texas-school-disciplinary-policies

 

Failure to Address Disproportionality in American Schools

In the Utah Special Educator, Essential Educator Online (http://essential educator.org/), Edward Fergus (Equity Assistance Center Arizona State University), writes thoughtfully on, “Distinguishing Difference from Disability: The Common Causes of Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education” (November. 2011). The project was supported by the U. S. Department of Education.

One point made is that placement in special education is a “restrictive environment” and limits educational opportunity to access more rigorous curriculum and instruction: “For example, students are less likely to receive access to rigorous and full curriculum (Harry & Klingner, 2006; Fierros & Conroy, 2002); limited academic and post-secondary opportunities (Harry & Klingner, 2006); limited interaction with “abled” or academically mainstreamed peers and increased sense of social stigmatization (Gartner & Lipsky, 1999; National Research Council, 2002); and a permanence in their placement (Harry & Klingner, 2006).”

This is not good news.

We damage children when we put them in special education. We know that Native American children already arrive at school with an historic negative expectation. Placing them in special education serves to confirm the negative expectation, a self-fulfilling prophecy. And once they are in, they stay in and the label sticks. After all, “they are indians.”

Black American children we know can be put on the road to prison by consignment to special education.

Why do we continue to do it anyway? What is the mainstream motive? At one point don’t we lose our credibility as educators?

The problem of over-identification of non-disabled children has been known to us since the 1960s, as Mr. Fergus documents.

It’s against the law!

Stop sign along country road.

We advocate here for direct action among local schools. As we say to the children in our schools, “Stop, you are making bad choices!” The mechanics of cutting back on disproportional representations and misidentification practices can be understood by a 5th grader. Of course we need thoughtful studies to work from, but we do not need them all that much.