Lawmaker Seeks Action on Special Education Report
A House Democrat is asking President Bush to investigate reports that African American children are almost three times more likely than Whites to be assigned to special education classes.
The issue of mislabeling is of “enormous concern” to African Americans, says Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., in a letter to Bush and other Republican leaders. The lawmaker was responding to the findings of a Harvard University study that found many African Americans are unfairly placed in special education, where student progress is slow and teachers often are in short supply (see related story, page 21).
While he has had suspicions about mislabeling for some time, the study from Harvard’s Civil Rights Project “provides convincing evidence of the wrongful treatment of African Americans and other minority students,” Fattah says.
“If you truly believe that, ‘All of our citizens are created equal, and must be treated equally,’ then you will agree that racial discrimination has no place in our society, particularly not in our public school system,” Fattah told the president.
Among other conclusions, the Harvard study said misclassification of children and poor services to children in special education may deny these students equal opportunity.
Fattah is recommending that Bush conduct an investigation through the Department of Education and the Department of Justice’s civil rights division.
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