One of the goals of education is to provide opportunities for all students to succeed regardless of their background. Unfortunately for Black students with special needs, this is not always the case. These students face unique challenges and obstacles that can hinder their academic and personal growth.
Disproportionate Identification and Placement in Special Education
Black students are disproportionately identified and placed in special education programs compared to their white peers. Black students are 40% more likely to be identified as having educational disabilities than their peers. Black students are twice as likely to be identified as having emotional disturbance and intellectual disability as their peers.
Among families of students with disabilities, those with lower incomes and who have children of color are less likely than their affluent and white counterparts to access their legal rights under IDEA.
Lack of Access to Quality Education
Black students with special needs often attend schools in low-income communities with limited resources and funding. These schools may not have access to resources and support to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. As a result, many do not receive the necessities to succeed in their academic and personal lives.
Removing the Obstacles
Addressing Disproportionate Identification and Placement
To address the disproportionate identification and placement of Black students in special education, schools must implement culturally responsive practices. This includes training educators on cultural competence and providing resources to support the diverse needs of students. Schools should also review their policies and procedures to ensure they are not biased against students of color. Some of the resources can be utilized by teachers are social-emotional learning materials, restorative practices tools, and behavior assessments, plans and supports.
Providing Equitable Access to Education
To ensure that Black students with special needs have access to quality education, schools must provide the necessary resources and support. Working with the students' families are a great way to ensure equity in education. Another important part of creating an equitable environment is hiring more diverse staff and allocating resources to schools in low-income communities. Schools should also work with families to create individualized education plans (IEPs) that meet the unique needs of each student. There are also a plethora of professional development opportunities to learn more about black students with special needs. CE Credits Online offers a course called Identifying and Removing Obstacles for Black Students with Special Needs that will help teachers make a difference in the underserved lives of their special needs students.
Promoting Inclusive Education and Addressing Implicit Bias
Teachers should foster a creative environment and address implicit bias to create a welcoming and supportive environment for Black students with special needs. This can be achieved by implementing anti-bias and anti-racist practices, providing diversity and inclusion training for staff, and creating a safe space for students to discuss their experiences.
Advocacy for Students
What does advocacy look like? Advocacy includes gathering information, looking for strengths and needs, understanding the cultural identities of your students, putting aside personal biases for the good of your students, collaborating with families, gathering resources for students to succeed, and adjusting your and your teaching practices to better meet the needs of your students.
Online Professional Development Course
CE Credits Online offers online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of underserved Black Students with Special Needs? Change agency begins with awareness, knowledge, and skill. In this self-paced course, teachers and school staff will recognize personal and professional biases, relationships between structures of racism and special education, relate empathy for ignorance to strategies for equity, and relegate evidence-based and privileged best practices to the most marginalized students with special needs: Black students. Check out the course: Identifying and Removing Obstacles for Black Students with Special Needs.