Race and the Diagnosis of Disability in Students

It has long been known that African American students are disproportionately diagnosed — over-diagnosed? — with learning and other disabilities. Ed Week cites 2008 government data from the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University according to which African-American students are “nearly or greater than twice as likely as white students to be classified with emotional or intellectual disabilities.” Nirvi Shaf at Ed Week’s On Special Education blog provides more statistics to underscore the extent of the problem:

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In September 2010, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi hired education finance expert Mary Levy as a consultant to study the funding of public and public charter schools. Over the next five months, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. Levy said, she wrote a large chunk of a report that was never released. Gandhi spokesman David Umansky, asked about this a few months ago, said there was never any report contemplated, only “an information gathering exercise.”

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The Washington, D.C. school system’s failure to hold higher-ups accountable for their 2008-2010 test cheating scandal has led to more speculation that some are intentionally stonewalling attempts to get at the truth.

According to the Washington Post, D.C. ‘s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), headed by Hosanna Mahaley, issued a December 23 press release after months of dodging Freedom of Information requests by journalists.  In September, a spokesman for OSSE told the Post‘s Jay Mathews that the “data was ready and I would get it after Mahaley returned from a trip to Brazil.”

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