A disturbing new report finds that thirty one percent African-American public school students are labeled as having an intellectual disability, while 28 percent are labeled as having emotional disturbance problems. The National Association for the Education of African American Children with Learning Disabilities has created a new project to better equip educators and parents with the tools to correctly address the unique needs of our students. “This project will start a movement of parents that are not solely dependent upon the school system for their children’s success but will allow them to discover how to work with schools in order to achieve academic success based on learning style,” said Nancy Tidwell, president of the organization. They are partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to distribute information to specifically assist parents of Black children and train 20 master teachers who will then reach 900 parent leaders through in-person trainings and another 240 through online sessions.
While increased efforts to support African-American students are certainly welcome, do we buy the statistics regarding our “intellectually disabled” and “emotionally disturbed” children? Might the large influx of young teachers who lack experience in urban and rural communities have anything to do with the increased number of Black children diagnosed with learning problems?