The department’s regulation creates a standard approach that states must use in determining if their districts are overenrolling minority students in special education compared to their peers of other races. If the disparities are large enough, districts are required to use 15 percent of their federal allotment under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act on “coordinated, early intervening services” aimed at addressing the issue.
The new rule also requires states to use a standard approach to determine whether minority special education students are in segregated settings more than peers of other races, or if they face more suspensions and expulsions than their peers. Disparities in those areas would also trigger the requirement to use federal money to fix the problem.
See the problem? No? That’s okay. I’m here for you. It’s like the moronic question asked on my law school application, “How many hours per day do you plan to study?” I answered, “How long must a man’s* legs be?” See it now? Too obtuse? Jeez, you’re a tough crowd.
The notion that minorities might be “over-enrolled” in special education presumes there is a right percentage of minorities in need of special ed. As opposed to, say, whatever the actual need might be. Why? Because of the absolute certainty that minority students should not be in need of special ed disproportionately to their percentage in the population. To believe otherwise might suggest there’s something “wrong” with minority students. Since that’s an unacceptable belief, it can’t be.
For the even-more-unaware, the idea that there is latitude in schools’ compliance with dictats like this, which speaks to federal funding, the life-blood of the educational bureaucracy, is just a tad unrealistic. As with counting sports team members under Title IX, the feds are too busy to think hard about why numbers work out the way they do, so they do the math with their very expensive calculators and, if your numbers don’t add up, you are discriminating. Screw your reasons. Stats never lie in D.C.
But what, you ask, of those boys and girls who, for whatever reason, need special ed? Don’t we care about the children? Well, sure we do, but not nearly as much as we care about the fantasy. So, schools will have two ways to “fix” their statistical failings: put fewer minorities into special ed or put more non-minorities into special ed.
If the former, minorities will suffer for failure to provide a “free appropriate public education.” For the latter, who gives a shit if they spend a few years sitting around being taught far below their capabilities, but getting cool stickers and red balloons.
The fantasy, however, doesn’t end there, as the denial of reality, personal needs and issues, individual attention and responsibility, will stick with them like an unpleasant smell through the end of their educational lives.
Many college campuses have reacted to Donald Trump’s election with shock and angst. Professors and students are wondering how the rest of the country could be so different from them. The more introspective are asking: What can we do?
Actually, the more introspective are asking, How can we be so clueless, so utterly out of touch with reality? But I digress.
Michael Bloomberg has an answer.
It’s an answer that should appeal to both liberals and conservatives — an answer that isn’t about Trump per se but instead about the alienation that helped him win. Bloomberg wants to make leading colleges more open to the working class. He wants to make them fairer places that look more like America.
There is a fetishist vision of every aspect of education, of America, that invokes the word “fair” as if believing hard enough makes every wish come true. Putting aside the fact that students are coming out of college with a lifetime of debt and the best job prospect of managing their very own Dairy Queen someday,**
A landmark recent study found that most highly qualified low-income students don’t attend one of the country’s roughly 250 top colleges. Many instead enroll in local colleges with relatively few resources and high dropout rates.
Think about what an injustice this is. Thousands of students each year overcome long odds — tough neighborhoods, weak schools, chaotic families — and excel. Then society lets them down once again.
Society? You misspelled Harvard. Nobody put a gun to college dean’s heads and demanded they raise tuition by a million percent. Oh wait, the Department of Education kinda did when it required more exceptionally well-paid Title IX administrators than teachers lest any student not have a bureaucrat of their own, just in case. But I digress again.
Those thousands of students who “overcome long odds . . . and excel” may very well be exactly the sort of students who should be in college, as opposed to your suburban dopes who enjoy top flight schools because your mommies and daddies worked hard to make sure that neither your laziness nor narcissism got in the way of your impressing the neighbors.
But what stops these deserving students? If they’re so damn smart, how is it possible they don’t know that there are these nice, bucolic places called college that will enable them to grow up to be president someday?
Yet again, the fantasy screws the pooch. Aside from your absurd tuition hikes, and the lesson of other grads that a diploma isn’t the gateway to the American dream, but a life of debt and underemployment, economically poor students need something other than the sweet condescension of well-meaning pedagogues. They need money. They need to earn a living, to help their parents, the siblings, eat. Pay rent. Put gas in the old Corolla. They can’t afford the opportunity costs of four years of obsessing over Audre Lorde.
The truth is that colleges have long had the ability to enroll more middle-class and poor students. They’ve chosen other priorities: sports teams; new buildings; ethnic and geographic diversity; admitting alumni children.
Right. Poor kids suck at sports. Everybody knows that. And then there’s that ethnic thing, ruining colleges with all their ethnicity. Imagine how many problems could be solved if universities sold tickets to rich black kids fighting poor white kids on the quad?
Except this is all a lie. Colleges have had need-blind admissions for years, and most, especially the top colleges, offer very generous assistance. A smart poor kid will get a free ride at Harvard, and shockingly, even smart poor kids have heard the word “college.” So why aren’t they rushing to apply? Because they don’t have the latitude to blow off four years of their life to end up sitting on the couch in the basement, if they have a basement, pondering when someone will open that gender studies department store for them to manage.
The fantasy at the start and finish, expressed with the deep passion of true believers, sounds wonderful. So why hasn’t it managed to make our world a Utopia? Because it’s all just fantastical educational philosophy that fails children, students, but with the best of intentions. It’s just not real.
*I was not yet woke to my sexist upbringing.
**”But my adviser said employers love the critical thinking skills of deviant sexual studies majors.”