Essay on Misrepresentation of African American Students

2434 Words Nov 1st, 2014 10 Pages
The Misrepresentation of African American
Students in Special Education Programs

SOCI 2301
Research Proposal

Introduction In the American education system, there is a steady increase in the number of Black students that are placed in special education programs. Black children are primarily labeled with either being Educable Mentally Retarded (EMR), or having a Behavioral Disorder (BD) (Kunjufu, 1995). This is a concern because statistics show that even though African American children only constitute 17 percent of all students, they compromise 41 percent of all special education placements, and out of the 41 percent of black children that are placed in special education programs, 85
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Documented statistics by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights proves the urgency in which solutions need to be met (Hosp & Reschly, 2004). One major issue surrounding the placement of black students in special education is affected by the bias testing often administered by our public school system (Patton, 1998). The first major court case over test bias involving African American students was the case of Larry P. v. Riles (1984). This case stemmed from a disagreement in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) in 1971 where African Americans made up 28.5% of the student population in the SFUSD, yet they represented 66% of children who were placed in classes for the EMR. The students were asking the courts to intervene and prevent the SFUSD from using the IQ test. They claimed that the IQ test violated their 14th Amendment rights. After twelve years of litigation, the courts ruled in favor of the students. This ruling further showed the importance of the federal regulation that states “Testing and evaluation materials and procedures used for the purpose of evaluation and placement of children with disabilities must be selected and administered so as not to be racially or culturally discriminatory” (34 C.F.R. § 300.500(b), 1996). There were

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