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Why Black Boys End Up In Special Ed. When They Don’t Belong There

By: Serena Crawford

A new study has revealed data that shows that more black boys are put into special education classes when they do not have a disability than those who actually do. There are boys who do have a disability and are not diagnosed, those who do not have a disability at all and are diagnosed with one, those who do not have one and are not diagnosed with one, and those who have a disability and are diagnosed properly. Many of the boys that do not need to be in special education classes are put there anyway for the following reasons:

1. Misdiagnosis: Children who are diagnosed as having a disability but do not are numerous. They are bored by the environment that they are in because they are not being challenged enough and so they appear to have a learning disability because of the boredom. There are others who fall victim to stereotypes and when teachers see the slightest bit of slack in work they feel that the boys have some sort of learning disability.

2. Overly harsh punishment: It is no secret that black boys are punished more often that white boys and they are often given harsher punishments. The excessive suspensions set them back because they are absent from school for so long.

3. Behavior: Often times a black child misbehaving can be mistaken for a learning disability or a mental disability such as ADHD. They often are not given a diagnosis or not given a correct one because their regular behavior doesn’t fit in with the environment that they are in.

4. Racial bias: Over 80% of teachers in America are white women who come from white neighborhoods. There are many out there that subject their students to racial biases and put black boys in special education classes because they feel that they are a threat or that they cannot teach them because of stereotypes that they have heard. This is a great disservice to the young black men who want to learn and excel in their schooling.

5. Separation: Black males do not thrive when they are separated in school situations. Unfortunately most schools that diagnose a child as having a disability (incorrectly or not) feel that this is something that they cannot overcome and place them in special education throughout their school career. They never get to be with “normal” students and their education suffers because of it.

6. Honors: The good news is that there are also many black males with disabilities who are in honors classes. Many enter honors classes because their parents or someone who is an important influence in their life fought for them to get the best education that they can. These boys do well in school even if they have a disability.

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19 thoughts on “Why Black Boys End Up In Special Ed. When They Don’t Belong There

  1. Natalie Horne

    Can you please post a link or more information regarding the study cited in the article? I would love to review the findings. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. James

    #4 speaks alot to me, as my education was hindered by white women often of whom had hidden agendas and would manipulate the class against me. My parents were too busy trying to keep up with the JOnes’ to realize my problem wish environmental not mental. I sort of hate them for that, and now I have a contempt towards white women in general because of how evil and deceptive I KNOW they can be.

    Reply
    • Greg

      As a white man who grew up with white female teachers, I felt a similar thing from certain teachers, not as a racial thing but as a gender thing.

      Reply
  3. Joe

    This speaks volumes to me, especially #4, like James said. I was taught almost primarily by white women and singled out in front of classes many times. I recall being in 2nd grade and my teacher reading the class a story about MLK. After the story, she closed the book and asked me how it made me feel, IN FRONT OF MY CLASSROOM FULL OF WHITE STUDENTS. I did have a 5th grade teacher that was a black man and math and art teachers that were Hispanic in junior high. Looking back, those 3 male teachers paid much more attention to my school and personal life. The black teacher even knew some of my family! We need more black teachers, male or female, ASAP!

    Reply
  4. Shonda

    This article does not only apply to black male children but young black girls as well. I am a mother of a little girl and totally feel that my daughter was mislabeled as early as kindergarten. They literally put in their reports that my child was a \drama queen, a trouble maker, starts fights and that she would not have friends when she grew up\. They made up behavioral problems to qualify her for special education. I admit she was a little behind in reading but her test scores weren’t low enough to get her in special education by themselves so they added other items to the list. Everyone that knows my child knows she is not a trouble maker, we have a hard time getting her to even defend herself. Her teacher even went as far as moving her seat away from the other students in the class because she had a hard time sitting all day and gave her a balloon to sit on. I immediately went to the school and demanded they put her back with the rest of the class and requested that this was too never happen again. We as parents have to advocate for our kids. If we don’t no one will. Over the years my daughter has never had a African American teacher or Hispanic. We are out numbered in the education system. I had to learn my rights and put certain things into place this year which helped my daughter to have a very successful year. Her school is well aware that I am an active parent and they will HEAR ME and SEE ME!

    Reply
  5. Brenda

    I understand that the school districts receive extra money for children when they are enrolled in special education classes. The educators aren’t aloud to share this information with the parents, thats why all parent should take the time and
    be involved with their childrens school, thats what sugarmomma say.

    Reply
  6. sharon TM

    I agree with the article. My cousin, had a white female teacher and at the most impressionable age and grade (1st grader). The teacher was not teaching these children anything! All black students. My cousin reported this woman would have her students playing in her hair. Although my aunt investigated these actions conducted by the teacher, my cousin had already lost so much time. He was labeled a\slow\ learner. Unfortunately this was so many years ago when busing black kids into white schools was the thing to do! Huge mistake! He’s older now, long story short he’s doing well. We need more and more black teachers, male and female.

    Reply
  7. sharon TM

    As a female it was no different, my white teacher would often fall asleep in class. Leaving the students to run her classroom. I often think about it, and is disgusted by her actions. Not sure how many students passed in her class but I went on to get my Degree in Political Science. Thank God! My mom was very involved in my academic studies.

    Flip side had a black teacher in second grade and I remember her humiliation, by accusing me of not being able to spell my own name! There’s a lot that goes on in the education system and classroom that would surprise us.

    Reply
  8. Ann

    I found all of the above to be true. Sop I took my son out and started homeschooling him. I refuse to let this racist educational system train my son to be mediocre.

    Reply
  9. sharon TM

    Good for you! My cousin home schooled every last one of her 6 children. They’re really smart! Three have completed their college education. Two are currently in college. The last one is now in high school. He plays football. It’s amazing and so is she who sacrificed so much for them. Her children rise and call her blessed. Proverb 31.

    That’s how I see her as blessed! It’s worth it to home school if one can. God bless you!

    Reply
  10. Ronnie Sidney II

    Wow, these statistics mirror my own situation. I was in special education for seven years and also diagnosed with ADHD. I had to fight to get in honors classes and at one time the school had me signed up for all special education core classes in high school. The stigmatization became to much for me that I asked my parents to get me out of special education all together.

    I decided to write a children’s book, NELSON BEATS THE ODDS, because I wanted to share my experience and offer some encouragement to young people facing difficult challenges. I really want the book to resonate with black males because based on the statistics, we’re disproportionately referred to special ed, often times without even having a learning disability. I would love everyone’s support in making the project happen. Please visit my Kickstarter page and learn more about my project https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/530081902/nelson-beats-the-odds

    Reply
  11. JJE

    Let me speak to the white elephant in the room. I work in the area of child welfare. I see so many young black boys who are diagnosed as ADD or ADHD long before the reach school age. They are diagnosed or mis-diagnosed maybe, after repeated requests for testing by their mothers. Some of these young mothers are perhaps unprepared to deal with what is a normal level of activity for preschool age children. Some are seeking for their child to be medicated and sadly, many are seeking that diagnosis in order to get an SSI check. They enter the school system with a diagnosis that will place them in a special education classroom setting and many are defeated before they’ve even begun. Some of these kids are exceptionally bright, but most will never get the opportunity to learn to their real capability.

    Reply
    • Carli

      ADHD is not treated properly in the US. American drs don’t seem to have time to figure things out. Whereas in France ADHD is not treated as a medical condition but many factors, social, environment, biological, etc.

      Reply
  12. JB

    YO!: I was in special education all my life cause of my language disability but I NEVER used that as an excuse to get by or get a hand out. I remember in the 8th my teachers put me in all special ed class after when into regular ed class and had a 3.0 gpa a year before. (The teacher was black by the way) When she talk to my Moms, I knew she was afraid of me failing and that was some BS. By high school I had fight the teachers and the consolers to put me in some challenging classes and they did…in my Junior year and throughout me Senior year.
    I was different from the other students; my goals is to go college and believe it or not I have 2 degrees. Yes Special Ed is embarrassing to me and have effort for me socially as I try to reach out to my other classmates.
    As I look back in it….I really didn’t need Special Ed anyway. It just a hold back from your pretention that you can successes.
    #nuffsaid.

    Reply
  13. Carli

    Go to any Black district and you’ll see a ton of Black kids in special ed. I was at a poor, white school and subbed there. The district was poor but excellent. I had a Black kid in K & again in 1st grade. He couldn’t sit still for 5 mins and never, ever finished his work. I was concerned for him and asked around. His parents refused to allow him in spec. ed. He’s going to get further and further behind. Without that needed help he’s at risk and might be one of the kids who drops out in 8th grade.

    Reply
  14. Pingback: Why Black Boys End Up In Special Ed. When They Don’t Belong There | Take a Look in Debbies Window

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