The Misidentification of Children with Disabilities: A Harm with No Foul

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Claire Raj

Special education, despite being a uniform federal mandate, is often implemented drastically differently depending on the school system delivering services, the particular category of disability, and the race or ethnicity of students. Affluent white children who attend well-managed school districts tend to benefit from special education services. In the under-funded and over-tasked districts where most minorities attend school, the special education system does not always provide the same benefits. In these schools, special education, too often, operates as a dumping ground for those students the general education system cannot or refuses to serve. In these instances, the label of “special education” may carry harms that outweigh its benefits.

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