Initiative to Tackle High Number of Black Kids in Special Education

January 17, 2012  |  

It’s no secret that education systems are quick to label hyperactive or troublesome black kids as learning disabled. African American children make up about 16.6% of students enrolled in the nation’s public schools, but they represent 31% of students identified as having an intellectual disability and 28% of those with an emotional disturbance, according to the National Association for the Education of African American Children with Learning Disabilities.

Recognizing how disproportionate that figure is, the association has developed an initiative to to train parents across the country to effectively advocate for kids to ensure that students are labeled appropriately by their school districts and receive the services they need.

“This project will start a movement of parents that are not solely dependent upon the school system for their children’s success but will allow them to discover how to work with schools in order to achieve academic success based on learning style,” said Nancy Tidwell, president of the National Association for the Education of African American Children with Learning Disabilities.

The initiative will include a partnership with the U.S. Department of Education’s parent training centers and other groups to help distrubute information to specifically assist parents of black children. The developers of the program expect to train 20 master teachers who will then reach 900 parent leaders through in-person trainings and another 240 through online sessions. I definitely hope this is an initiative that will catch on so parents can feel empowered to not just accept a teacher’s recommendation but fight for their child to get the education they need and deserve.

What do you think about this idea? Have you had to fight with school administrators who’ve tried to inappropriately label your child? As a educator, do you think this initiative will be effective?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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