Diverse or Disabled? The Improper Use of Special Education

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The overrepresentation of minority cultures in special education is the result of minority children being referred to special education who do not have a disability but rather a cultural barrier that hinders their learning. One of the most pressing issues in special education today is the overrepresentation of minorities. Overrepresentation means that there is a higher percentage of a certain group in special education than that of the same group in regular education. This overrepresentation indicates that children from minorities are being placed in special education not due to a disability, but due to a cultural or language barrier. . . . African American, Latino/a, and Native American students score less well on standardized tests. [Achievement] gaps persist in additional levels of achievement, such as grades and class rank. . . . In addition, African American students are more likely to be placed in special education classes and, once placed, are less likely to be mainstreamed or returned to regular classes (Davis, 96). Minorities are at a greater risk for being referred to special education. In his article, Hoover discusses risk ratios of minorities being moved to special education. Risk ratios are numbers that show how likely it is that an event will occur. A risk ratio of above one means that one particular event is more likely to happen than the control event, or one that has a risk ratio of less than one. “. . . Hispanic, African American, and American Indian students have risk ratios of 1.1, 1.34, and 1.53, respectively, as compared to the risk ratio of .86 for nonminority students. . .” (Hoover, 40). Children raised in poverty display behaviors that are sometimes mistaken for emotional and behavioral disorders. Chi... ... middle of paper ... ... placing children in special education costs money and resources that are already scarce. In order to provide the best education for all students, teachers must be careful to refer only those who are truly disabled and not simply different. Works Cited Davis, Bonnie M. How to Teach Students Who Don't Look like You: Culturally Responsive Teaching Strategies. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2012. Print. Hoover, John J. "Reducing Unnecessary Referrals: Guidlines for Teachers of Diverse Learners." Teaching Exceptional Children 44.5 (2012): 39-47. Print. Lieberman, Laurence M. Preserving Special Education For Those Who Need It. Newtonville, MA.: GloWorm Publications, 1988. Print. Ysseldyke, James E., and Robert Algozzine. The Legal Foundations of Special Education: A Practical Guide for Every Teacher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2006. Print.

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