To the Editor:
Your article “Minority Overrepresentation in Special Ed. Targeted,” reflects the recent injection of race into a problem that should be dealt with on the issues. Having taught in inner-city schools for 41 years, I have seen the focus of discussions about special education shift from who really needs special education to racial balance. Today, even if 95 percent of the students in a school are from minority groups, children are placed in special education not because of need, but because of their ethnic background.
In such a case, an emotionally disturbed minority child not in special education might disrupt a classroom, and in so doing ruin the education of 25 other minority students, all because of racial politics. This discussion has nothing to do with children’s needs. If it did, the minority child running around the room would be considered in light of the 25 minority children who can’t learn because of one student’s emotional problems.
I witnessed the destruction of the education of hundreds of minority kids because of this notion of racial balance in special education.
A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2005 edition of Education Week as When Racial Politics Trumps Special Needs