Monday, March 31, 2003

Racism and Special Ed in Arizona

A Goldwater Institute study by Children First America vice president Matthew Ladner, documents the mislabeling of minority students in special education in Arizona.

This study focuses on race and special education in Arizona’s public school districts, based on data from the Arizona Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education. Even after controlling for school spending, student poverty, community poverty, and other factors, research uncovered a pattern of predominantly White public school districts placing minority students into special education at significantly higher rates. As a result, Arizona taxpayers spend nearly $50 million each year on unnecessary special education programs.

In Arizona, predominantly White districts label substantially higher percentages of minority students as disabled when compared to predominantly minority districts:

Disability rates for Hispanic students are 48 percent higher
Disability rates for African-American students are 29 percent higher
Predominantly White districts label 34 percent fewer White students as disabled

The study calls for reforming the "bounty system" of special education funding in Arizona and instituting Florida-style revenue-neutral special-education vouchers in Arizona.

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