Thursday, June 25, 2015

New York Times Op-Ed on Special Education

I'm not going to say much to start here but I feel this op-ed by  two professors of education, Paul L. Morgan of Penn State and George Farkas of UC, Irvine, is a more nuanced look at the issue than many other articles I've read.

Read it and give me your impressions.

Also, from NBC, a beautiful and touching story about a deaf boy, Zeke Ortiz, who has become part of a very competitive hearing basketball team. 





A teammate communicates with Zeke
"If you see someone scoring, if you see someone aggressive, if you see someone really hustling for the ball, eventually they're going give you the ball because they're going to trust you," Coach Cobb said. "Kids are about trust sometimes." 

The other players on the team say he's "the best." 

"He's fast," 7-year-old Joziah Cobb said. 

"He shoots a whole bunch of three's," 7-year-old Andrew Spencer said. 

Two championships later, Zeke and his family created a video to teach the team how to sign helpful basketball terminology. One teammate even signed up for an American Sign Language course this summer. 

"It's a gift to be deaf," Ortiz(his father) said. "There's no reason to let being deaf be a barrier for us in any way." 

Next up for Zeke and the Playmakers — the AAU National Championship game in Maryland.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It may be that black children are less likely to be identified and treated for disabilities because of a greater responsiveness by education professionals to white parents"

I don't believe this is true in Seattle public schools. I have seen students of white affluent parents equally discriminated against. The problem in SPS is low quality or sometimes no services. Race just doesn't rise to the top when looking at the data. I'm not saying other educational issues don't have a racial bias, but special education in Seattle public schools (SPS) on the surface doesn't.

Dr. Patu believes SPS uses Special education placement as a discriminatory tool to remove troublesome black students from general educational classrooms to special educational settings. The data doesn't support her view and she should read the Paul L. Morgan of Penn State and George Farkas of UC, Irvine article, maybe then she will reconsider helping SPED parents and supporting needed changes in the SPED dept .

NameLess

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Director Patu not Dr., I forget she doesn't have a doctorate, yet.

NameLess

Anonymous said...

I find this article spot on. Read Susan Goding ' s comment after the article. She takes the much the opposite view.

Recently there has been a huge thrust for uniform outcomes through uniform programs rather than providing programs which create a maximal learning opportunity for each child.

NCLB and Common Core + SBAC are huge impediments to creating programs that meet the needs of individual children. Students vary greatly in abilities and interests and skill development. The current trust these days under serves the very talented as well as many struggling learners. Note that virtually every state needed an NCLB waiver because of failing to achieve impossible to reach outcomes.

The current system expects statistical uniformity failing to take into account that students are not a uniform population.

This article is spot on but the SPS and most of the nation's schools are headed in the opposite direction ... (apparently the opposite direction is where Gates, Broad, and Walton wish the public schools to be headed)

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...


"NCLB and Common Core + SBAC are huge impediments to creating programs that meet the needs of individual children."

Absolutely. I do not think NCLB has done anything except a lot of data-gathering and to what end?

Anonymous said...

From the article:
To flag supposed racial bias in special-education placement, the United States Department of Education is thinking of adopting a single standard for all states of what is an allowable amount of overrepresentation of minority children.

If well-intentioned but misguided advocates succeed in arbitrarily limiting placement in special education based on racial demographics, even more black children with disabilities will miss out on beneficial services.

=====

I do not know if it is the State of Washington or the Feds that arbitrarily limit students in various categories of special service categories based on percentages of school population. Teachers are sometimes told to place students into various categories of disabilities based on fear of exceeding allowable percentages in other categories. Learning Disabled, Mentally Retarded, etc.

In some districts teachers are discouraged from referring students for special ed because it costs the district money.

Education leadership and direction has become largely a political game that has less and less to do with providing individual students the opportunity to maximize their learning.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

The op-ed makes complete sense to me--and I suspect the same claims could be made for other areas in which we see similar racial disparities. I've always found it puzzling that people expect there NOT to be racial disparities in things such as discipline or advanced learning participation, when it's clear that some groups enter, and proceed through, the school system significantly more disadvantaged than others. While the goal should be to eliminate those disparities in our schools, we need to do it by providing sufficient supports to help overcome those disadvantages, not by simply providing/denying additional services to equalize rates (regardless of needs). Equality should not be about manipulating services and interventions so that everything looks good--it should be about providing targeted services to those who need them so that everything actually IS good.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Ahhh. HIMSmom speaks like a true HCC parent. Separate but equal... all over again. Basically, you're saying, - My kid needs HCC - those other kids, they need discipline and special ed. I know it looks bad when my kid is in a program without any black kids, but oh well, guess those other kids just don't need advanced learning. So it's really OK to have that segregation when those other students don't need advanced learning. Let's just make sure we put them all in special ed, that way, we can achieve "everything actually IS good."....

Puke HIMSmom!


Instead of focusing on whether or not minority kids are in special ed, and clamping down on those numbers, much better to put requirements on HCC and try getting to "equal opportunity" from that angle. If special ed isn't closing the achievement gap, maybe HCC will.

Seattle special ed used to publish racial numbers. (but hasn't for about 5 years) Black students were about 3X more likely to be identified with an intellectual disability (hint Dan. "intellectual disability" is the educated terminology) And, something like 3X more likely to be placed in an EBD program than their populations as a whole. Do these college professors think that minorities are intellectually disabled at a rate MORE than 3X the rates of others??? And that even MORE minority students should be in these categories????? How high should we go for labelling minorities as "intellectually disabled"??? 6X??? Do they really just think minority students are intellectually inferior? That is really the implication of this article. Also, where is the evidence that special education is serving students well? If it were, we'd see a reduction in the achievement gap as a result of special education. What data do they use to prove that more special education would lead to better outcomes. That really is the crux.

Ridunkulous



Melissa Westbrook said...

Ridunkulous, you can disagree without being disagreeable; I would ask you to watch your tone to others.

".. but oh well, guess those other kids just don't need advanced learning."

I have never heard one parent, anywhere, say that. I would ask you, what do YOU think the District should be doing to reach more children of color? Because I think some of the reason those numbers are low are partially due to parents who don't understand the program, don't want to move their child and whose current principals try to steer them away from those programs.

mirmac1 said...

HIMSmom,

Please do not take Ridunkulous' comments as the perspective of special education families.

We know there are some who profess we live in a "color-blind world". Yeah, puke.

I'll ask the Sped PTSA board to take a look at the conclusions in the report. I hope we will be able to provide our collective impression on Monday. In the fall we will regularly survey member families on matters such as this. But I am determined to take back any impression that SpEd parents are "crazy." Yet with fast-moving issues and as an all-volunteer board, this is sometimes difficult.

Please give the PTSA that chance. This doesn't preclude individuals to post their personal perspectives but we are not some sort of homogeneous bloc. Do not presume that blog commentators represent anything other than their own opinion, unless I post and sign as PTSA Prez. (otherwise it's my usual and personal snark)

I've taken it upon myself to make that distinction clear.

Thanks

Cecilia

Anonymous said...

@ Ridunkulous, CLEARLY you didn't understand my point.

As the op-ed states, "black children...are far more likely to be exposed to the gestational, environmental and economic risk factors that often result in disabilities."

And: "about 65 percent of black children, compared with about 30 percent of white children, live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line. From 1985 to 2000 about 80 percent of black children grew up in highly disadvantaged neighborhoods characterized by widespread unemployment, racial segregation, poverty, single-parent households and welfare."

And: "thirty-six percent of inner-city black children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. The figure for suburban white children is only 4 percent. Black children are about twice as likely to be born prematurely and three times more likely to suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome."

Do you mean to tell me that you don't think any of those things impact a child's behavior and/or academic performance when they show up at school? I'm not buying it.

But if those things DO contribute to poorer academic performance, behavioral problems, the need for SpEd services, and the like, then we should not be surprised if our numbers reflect that. That does NOT mean it's ok, however, or that we should just live with the status quo, and I never suggested that. What it means is that we need to better understand the reasons behind the observed disparities so that we can better mitigate the root causes. Pretending that everybody enters the system with the same set of challenges and opportunities sounds nice, but doesn't reflect reality. It's also not fair to those kids who enter needing more.

If black kids are 3X more likely to be identified to have an intellectual disability, the approach is not to just stop identifying two-thirds of them (or to identify more non-blacks as disabled). You first need to understand what's behind the observed data. If there are environmental factors that contribute to higher rates of a particular disability, you need to address those. If the assessments used to ID disabilities are culturally biased, we need to address those. If parenting issues impact behavior, which then in turn impacts special ed designation, maybe we need programs to provide behavior and parenting support. The root causes behind many of these disparities are outside of SPS's control, but that doesn't mean the school system shouldn't provide support to help counteract their impact once kids are in the system.

Same thing with HCC. Simply throwing more minority kids into HCC when they aren't prepared for it is not likely to fix the problem. If minority kids are not meeting the eligibility criteria at the same rates, we need to look at why. Admitting such a disparity exists does not imply they are "intellectually inferior." Rather, we need to acknowledge that there may be factors that have negatively impacted some kids' ability to meet those criteria--kids who would have qualified had their conditions been more supportive. Then we need to provide programs and services designed to help erase those barriers--and to help support minority kids to prepare for HCC so they can make a successful transition into HCC if that's where they'd best be served. Whether we need changes to the identification process, intensive services to help boost minority kids over the threshold, and/or something else, I don't know. But clearly the current disparity reflects something, and there's probably a lot more to it than you'd like to believe.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Please give the PTSA that chance. This doesn't preclude individuals to post their personal perspectives but we are not some sort of homogeneous bloc. Do not presume that blog commentators represent anything other than their own opinion, unless I post and sign as PTSA Prez. (otherwise it's my usual and personal snark)

I've taken it upon myself to make that distinction clear.

Thanks

Cecilia

So, mirmac1 are you the PSTA president for special education ? Why is it I do not see a Cecilia list here, http://seattlespecialedptsa.org/about-us/

just curious

Anonymous said...

Melissa, since you asked, here's what the district can do for equity.

1) End private testing into HCC. That disadvantages non-whites. How many times have we all heard that little Johnny "missed qualifying by 1 point so we had him tested by the neighborhood psych... because we all know he is so smart". Missing by 1 point is really missing by more than 50%, if you're trying to get the top 2%.
2) Reduce the overall headcount in HCC. Reduction in a highly segregated program that is growing without bounds, would go a long ways to reducing segregation in our school system. The level of segregation concentrates problems and special ed into "general ed" - and turns that into special ed. That precludes advanced learning for regular classes. If Seattle is really such an outlier - then we should have general ed that is more advanced, not special segregation for 10% or so.
3) Bring advanced learning to everyone - not the few.
4) Admission testing to HCC should use tests which do not produce racially biased outcomes. We use IQ tests that have well known racial biases. Find intelligence tests that don't have this property. If you use tests with bias - you must believe that some races are simply smarter than others. You can't really have it both ways.
5) Publish data on programs. What are the demographics of all programs in SPS? Cecilia, you can't really have an opinion at all without this data.

Cecilia -- Is it "crazy" to call BS on a report that says even MORE minorities should be labelled "intellectually disabled"? Because - that really is BS, not "crazy". "Intellectual disability" is already hugely lopsided in its racial makeup. Is it "crazy" to call BS on a report that says even MORE minorities should be in EBD programs? Go visit one of those programs. You won't see too many white kids in there. This report says there should be even fewer. BS. Without the data on demographics - we'll not know the extent to the BS in this article. But it is BS. And finally, this report can not be based on any data - because qualifying psych tests to special ed are PRIVATE. And that would be the ONLY way to make a true comparison. The only thing the report noted - some white kids in special ed had better academic performance than minorities who weren't in special ed. The conclusion - put more minorities in special ed. Guess what? That's BS too!!!!

If you go to the district, and let them know you read this article and produced a response that - more minorities should be in special ed. You'll be the crazy one. Better to let this one go.

Redunk

Anonymous said...

WOW ... the statement: more minorities should be in Special Ed is a completely obtuse way of analyzing the current situation.

Each student needs to have the best opportunity to maximize their learning. Decisions need to be based on the needs of each individual student. (The analysis based on percentages of how many of each group is in each program is highly counterproductive.)

So is anyone disputing the data on which the authors based their NY Times article?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

@ Redunk, did we read the same article? You said "The only thing the report noted - some white kids in special ed had better academic performance than minorities who weren't in special ed. The conclusion - put more minorities in special ed."

Huh? Where does it say that?

I think what it really said was that if you look at kids with SIMILAR academic performance and behaviors, minority kids are underrepresented in special ed. In other words, the kids may have the same problems, but the white kids are more likely to get identified for services that are supposed to address them. The perception that some minority groups are overrepresented in special ed comes from the fact that they are greatly overrepresented when it comes to many of the associated risk factors.

Or are you suggesting that none of those risk factors have any impact on kids?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

The two are the same.... white kid with one academic profile in sped, black kid with similar profile not in sped.... The erroneous conclusion: black kid should be in sped. That's his case in a nutshell.

If somebody wishes to "prove" that more black students should be in sped, then they need to also prove that sped would benefit them. Right??? The author failed to prove that point, or provide that evidence of special education efficacy. In particular, he failed to prove, or investigate at all... the efficacy of EBD programs or the "intellectual disability" label. If those things don't help students, and black students in particular, then there's no reason to "do it some more".

And right Dan, the only very weak data... Is the fact that some white sped kids have some better academic profile, probably on an SBAC, than some nonsped black kids. Right. That data is questionable.

ReDunk

Anonymous said...

ABOUT THE DATA .....

ReDunk wrote:
" the only very weak data... Is the fact that some white sped kids have some better academic profile, probably on an SBAC, than some nonsped black kids."

Is the data questionable? Is the data really very weak?

Definitely not using SBAC (very weak data?? read below)

In reading the actual report that was published HERE I find a professional 15 page article.

Sample Description

The study’s sample included children participating in the Early
Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort,
1998–
1999 (ECLS-K; Tourangeau, Lê, Nord, & Sorongon, 2009).
The ECLS-K is a nationally representative cohort of U.S. schoolchildren
who entered kindergarten in the fall of 1998 and were
then surveyed during the spring of kindergarten, fall and spring
of first grade (with data from only a random subsample collected
during the fall of first grade), and the springs of third, fifth, and
eighth grade. Data were collected from children, parents, and
teachers.
Our hazard modeling analyzed data from a sample of
20,100 kindergarten children with complete information on
race/ethnicity, gender, and age at the fall-of-kindergarten survey
wave. Table 1 displays the means of the study’s criterion and predictor
variables. Additional detail regarding the ECLS-K’s study
design is available from the National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES; see http://nces.ed.gov/ecls/kindergarten.asp).
Our analyses were weighted to produce results generalizable to
the population of U.S. schoolchildren who entered kindergarten
in 1998 and who continued through school until at least to the
end of eighth grade.


From kindergarten entry to the end of middle school, racial- and ethnic-minority children were less likely to be identified as having
(a) learning disabilities,
(b) speech or language impairments,
(c) intellectual disabilities,
(d) health impairments, or
(e) emotional disturbances.

Language-minority children were less likely to be identified as having
(a) learning disabilities or
(b) speech or language impairments.


-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

These researchers gave different tests, and use time variant risk factors to produced an "expected" rate of disability. Then they "calculated" that more minority students should be in special ed.

So: Use different tests, get different results. Why is that even research? Yes it is vaguely interesting that some tests would indicate even more disability among minorities. But, I'm sure they could find different variables that indicated that racial minorities are underrepresented in special ed. Which btw, is what most others have done.

Also a huge hole in the testing methodology. Kids with low incidence disability excluded from results. (Hello! Intellectual disability is low incidence.) Students with autism excluded. (Hello? Lots of racial bias in that diagnosis, doesn't that mess up your results?) And finally - quality of the environment, and previous education are NOT SUPPOSED to be considered when qualifying for special ed - by law. If low SES causes poor academic performance - it's supposed to be weeded out as eligibility for special ed. Special ed is not Title 1.

Wouldn't it be a lot more interesting if they did a study to determine the efficacy of special ed for various demographics? What works, what doesn't. Some commenters noted that minorities in special ed have the highest drop out rates of all.

Redunk

Jill Geary said...

On the NY Times article - it raises a good many points, and calls into question many others that are not discussed but are relevant to Seattle Public Schools. Many people are reluctant to have their child labeled as special education because they know it will mean exclusion in our district. And, in spite of the law requiring that children be taught in their least restrictive environment (the least of which is the general education classroom), those parents are right because Washington State has one of the worst records on LRE in the nation (52% of WA kids spend 80% of their time in general ed, and the national average is 61.5%). We exclude kids from general education too often. The other issue raised is that we do not do a good job of addressing the behavioral aspects of disability so as to allow students to remain in the general education classroom. Without greater counseling services provided in schools both in individual, group and classroom settings (among other things) it is very difficult to create the schoolwide culture necessary to properly respond to some of the more difficult behaviors associated with certain disability categories. As a former SPED administrative law judge and parent attorney, one doesn't just see this with kids of color, but as an earlier entry said, you see it across the board from low academic performers to the twice exceptional. To combat this unlawful exclusion, we need more professional development and class staff to provide general education teachers the people and tools they need to keep kids in the classroom even when behaviors are not in line with the norm. I truly hate to see parents resistant to having their child receive needed services (regardless of what we want to call them), but sympathize with their reluctance to have their child labeled and excluded. We must do better.

Anonymous said...

@ ReDunk, Ah, so I see now that your big concern, really, is with the effectiveness of special ed services--which clearly isn't within the scope of the research we were talking about, but is certainly of critical importance when thinking about the possible implications of this type of research.

Are you skeptical of the effectiveness of special ed services in general, or just in SPS? Is it all types of special ed services, or just some? And do you think there are differences in the effectiveness of such services for white vs. black students? Can you point me to good data on any of these? I would love to see some good program evaluation data from SPS on special ed--or any other programs and services, for that matter! I could be wrong, but my sense is that past data re: special ed have focused more on demographics and the implementation of requirements, as opposed to actual student outcomes. The research behind the op-ed seems to assume special ed services are generally a valuable intervention, but in the absence of good data it's hard to know for sure what is working and for whom.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

And HIMSmom, when is the last time the public received anything other than preselected self serving performance "data" from the SPED Department? Remember when Marni Campbell went around looking at IEP goal data pronouncing all sorts of progress on that basis? And the OSPI corrective action presentations are carefully NOT responsive to family experience or student outcomes. I do not think we will ever see an honest or transparent examination of sped student outcomes in SPS, not from the SPED Dept or anywhere in Teaching and Learning.

SKEPTIC

Jill Geary said...

For those of you who want some data - here is the reporting to the Department of Ed: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2014/wa-acc-statedatadisplay-12-13.pdf

It is not program specific but has some race based data, including disciplinary removals. What is shocking is that only 20% of parents with a child receiving special education services report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities. Doesn't seem like we do a very good job of creating an IEP team where parents are considered the most important member (though that is the idea per comments to the Federal IDEA regulations).

Anonymous said...

There's a rumor on FACEBOOK that SPS has received a proposal from the UW to provide free PD for teachers working with SPED students. It this the PD SPS was referring to at the SPED outreach meetings last spring or is this a new proposal? I thought I saw a comment on this here about 30 min ago and now its gone.


SPED mom

Anonymous said...

an IEP team where parents are considered the most important member

"consider" is used strategically in IEPs and in IEP meetings by SPS. "Consider" the fact when parents file a citizen complaint and are awarded an IEE at public expense. In many cases, (perhaps every case) OSPI only requires that SPS must "consider" the results of the IEE when developing an IEP. An IEE typically runs around $5,000 and SPS uses special educational funds from the state in most cases to pay for the IEE.

So, the state pays for an IEE and the district who violated the law resulting in the IEE only has to "consider" its findings or recommendations. IEEs are usually created by clinical psychologist most have PHDs and several in the area are well respected neuropsychologist with PHDs. An SPS psychologist is not clinical psychologist as far as I know, they are psychometrist at best.

In the end SPS usually cherry picks an IEE and many times dismisses the clinical psychologist findings in favor of the SPS employed psychometrist test results. The sad part of an IEP team is that most team members do NOT understand how to interpret IEEs and usually SPS legal has predetermined how the IEP will be written irrespective of the IEE or the parents. Thsi way the violator gets to dictate their own remedy.

I say it should be that SPS must incorporate the findings of the state awarded IEE in the most favorable light of the student.

--Michael

Anonymous said...

The notion of disability (and ability) is a cultural one. Evidence is that 30% of Native Americans are disabled according to SPS. How can such a huge number be anything but a cultural evaluation?

Separate but equal doesn't work. And equal isn't equal. Intellectual disabilities (ID) and EBD are already the most racially disproportionate disability categories, and are associated with the worst SPED dumps, the most exclusion, most punitive interventions, and the poorest outcomes. See 2007 SPS sped audit. It's ironic that we now have researchers saying, no matter how disproportionate the programs are, no matter how poor the outcomes are in the worst programs, we still don't have enough minorities in EBD and ID programs. Once again. BS.

Notably, the district closed ADHD programs at Coe and Blaine because they were too white. They wanted to whiten EBD programs instead of retaining something for students, mostly white, with ADHD which is "other health impaired", and often requires a doctor's diagnosis. Privileged white parents know better than to have their kids labeled ID or EBD. The district does not value those students. Similarly, privileged white families know how to get their kids labeled gifted. The district does value these programs, and provides better programs and lots of choices, and richly funded enrichment for these students who they value. No matter what you think of that special privilege, nobody should want an increase in ID and EBD for already overrepresented groups.

Redunk

Anonymous said...

Privileged white parents know better than to have their kids labeled ID or EBD.
Similarly, privileged white families know how to get their kids labeled gifted.


There is nothing "privileged" about being in special education. Diagnosis are not labels and are provided by professionals not parents.

There are plenty of affluent Blacks, Latinos and Whites who children who are not being served in SPS special education. Most truly privileged student's parents seek outside services or placement and avoid the nightmares, some roll the dice in court.

I think we can do without the "privileged white" term. There are many white parents fighting to improve special education for all students your comments are not helping. From what I've seen, it's mostly white parents and various ethnicity SPED advocates filing 95% of the actions with OSPI. They are trying to help all students regardless of color.

If you truly believe your comments then it would be better for you to reach out to the families you think are being abused and help them in filing actions with OSPI instead of white bashing on this blog.

NameLess

Anonymous said...

Parents wishing the best for their kids, and getting them credentials so they can get the best services they can - is not white bashing. It's reality. It's working the system. It's necessary in an inequitable system that devalues students. SPS has always had HIGH degrees of disproportionatity in sped. So disproportionate, that OSPI has had to monitor them. Previous SPS service model descriptions, specifically prevented students with ID from ANY general ed participation. Total exclusion and segregation. The language may now be gone, but the practice and the exclusion remains, as jill notes. Why would somebody want that for minority students? And as Michael notes, school psychs aren't real psychs. They can be influenced. Psych exams can be bought and paid for. But, you have to know how to do that, and be able to. If you think there's no racial disparities in special ed, Nameless, you are living in a bubble.

Redunk

PS. OSPI doesn't do much, in case you noticed. They just fixed sped in sps. Everthing is a whole lot better! Right?

Anonymous said...

ReDunk raises an interesting question that can easily be expanded:

Wouldn't it be a lot more interesting if they did a study to determine the efficacy of special ed for various demographics? What works, what doesn't.

Unfortunately that question of efficacy of education programs is rarely analyzed.

From fall 2006 through spring 2009 Cleveland High School put in place a school wide math experiment as part of a 5 year NSF grant for professional development of math teachers. (Note: the law does not require either notification or permission for this type of experiment in the USA ... it could not happen in Canada) The results of this NSF funded experiment with students were abysmal. I filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the NSF in which I asked the question "What kind of accountability is there for this grant?"

After about 18 months I got the NSF OIG's response:
The only accountability is that the money is spent in the manner outlined in the original grant proposal. So there you have it: Results are not important, just spend as outlined. The NSF funds lots of stuff that appeals to the philosophical ideological bent of particular groups... and when it doesn't work ... No Problem.

ReDunk puts out a request for measuring the efficacy of services .... rarely is that ever done in any statistically valid way.

ACCOUNTABILITY
Great idea ... but rarely does it ever happen.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the authors of the Op-Ed.

I teach special education in Philadelphia, PA. However, I am a Seattle native. I have taught only African American and Latino/a students during my 2 years as a teacher, a product of the schools in which I have worked. I have experience teaching students who have primary diagnoses of intellectual disability or autism.

The issue of disproportionality of diagnoses among children of color has a lot to do with the disproportionality of poverty and family instability. These are issues that occur more for children of color, not because of any defect or fault of their race or ethnicity, but because of structural factors in our society. Children of color are more likely to experience stressors, such as living in poverty, living in neighborhoods with high crime rates, or having a parent who is incarcerated. These are all underlying factors that contribute to the need for special education services. I also think that bias in testing instruments could be a contributing factor to disproportionality as well. Even though these environmental factors are not supposed to matter in diagnosing a child’s disability, these factors do matter. However, special education is often the only way that a child can receive the help that he/she needs, so the child must receive a disability diagnosis, even if one questions the diagnosis. A consequence of finding that a child does not have a disability is the risk of litigation from the parent due to a “child find” violation.

I do not see disproportionality as a problem, per se, but as a symptom of broader issues in our society relating to access to opportunities.

Setting quotas for what percentage of students can have a disability diagnosis does nothing to address the underlying issues.

EducatorofGreatStudents

Anonymous said...

Sped mom

Yes, I did post the information about the UW proposal here and yes it was deleted.

You must be on the FACEBOOK dyslexia group? I updated the FB post with a link to latest news on the proposal.


--Michael

Carol Simmons said...

Good grief,

I can barely keep up with our SeattlePublicschoolsCommunityForum....and I am retired and have a bit of time.........just think of all of the members in our community that do not have the time or do not go on "twitter" or Facebook or this Forum or subscribe to the Times or....

The digital divide, as well as the time to pursue postings, press releases, notices of meetings, or attendance at meetings, or conversations with press or "elected and/or appointed officials" or review the research mentioned or go to the Library to use computers if there is not one in the home, or try to figure out if "I am a robot or not" .........certainly is exclusionary and sometimes daunting.

I have a doctorate in Education, have served on a University of Washington alum committee for the past 20 years and try to keep up with the times and the issues. I have no idea what the UW Department of Education does nor do I have any idea of what the Center for Reinventing Education at UW does......and what the Seattle Public Schools have done has always been a mystery. ...This is why this Forum is so important. Thank you Melissa and Charlie.

my point being......we must be more inclusive. More community meetings, more community press releases, more caring, resulting hopefully with more representation from underserved groups

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael, if your comment was deleted, it was either off-topic or posted anonymously or used insulting language. Those are our rules.

Anonymous said...

It was posted with my blogger account and contained no foul language. It contained an email address and a html link to the UW site for the proposal brief. It wasn't off topic sine PD was mention by Jill Geary I thought I would share some of the efforts others are doing to make positive change in SPED and just not talking about it. I wont post it again because it was deleted 3 times. It's a mystery.

--Michael

Anonymous said...

Much of this article did not address "disability", rather environmental factors... These factors alone are not sufficient to determine specially designed instruction. 1. Does the student have a disability. 2.) does the disability have an adverse educational impact; 3.) does the student demonstrate a need for specially designed instruction.
In determining this the team must consider whether the student has responded/benefitted/received adequate instruction and document interventions/strategies used as a part of the general education (including differentiated instruction).
Based on the criteria,socio-economic status and other environmental factors do not equate disability....

Aggie