Racial Concerns in Special Education

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Racial Concerns in Special Education

Racial disparity has become a growing talking point across the country in relation to numerous matters, including police protection, litigation, and education. Special education is no exception, and a recent report published in November 2017 showed that this is a growing concern that needs to be addressed across the country.

The Hechinger Report, as it is called, showed that while 76 percent of Caucasian special education students received traditional high school diplomas in the school year ending in 2015, only 65 percent of Hispanic special education students and 62 percent of African Americans earned the same. While this was the national average, some states fared much worse, most notably Nevada where only 17 percent of African American special education students graduated with this diploma.

Concerns in the Classroom

While racial disparity is a problem across all educational platforms, this is, even more, the case in special education classrooms. One reason may relate to how parents feel their concerns are heard in school district meetings. Non-Caucasian parents often feel at a disadvantage to apply for and work hard to get the special education resources that have been promised them by law. This often requires a great deal of advocacy on the part of parents who must find special education services in the community and advocate for free services.

Another reason for some is that non-Caucasian students often attend school in districts where poverty is a real problem. Because much of the responsibility for paying for special education services falls on the school district itself despite magnanimous promises by the United States government, districts without good funding often fail to have quality special education classes in place.

Huge numbers of non-Caucasian students are put on the track for a certificate rather than a traditional diploma. While the traditional diploma states that the student passed the required courses, the certificate merely states that the student completed high school. Students graduating with only a certificate of completion may find it difficult if not impossible to get into college or to find a good job.

These facts are sad but true, and the more that educators and politicians realize the veracity of these reports, the sooner real change can occur throughout the country. In California, attorneys at Newman Aaronson Vanaman continually help special education students of all races advocate for the help and the education they need to thrive in school and in life.

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