Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education

Racial and ethnic disproportionality is among the most critical and enduring problems in special education. Despite court challenges and abundant research, the problem of disproportionate racial/ethnic representation in special education has persisted. This entry outlines the status of our knowledge of racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education, including historical context, issues in the identification of disproportionality, causes and conditions, and possible interventions.

History and Current Policy

Current racial and ethnic disparities in special education might well be viewed as the remnants of a long history of inequity in U.S. education, from slave laws that prevented the education of slaves through the burning of Black schools during the Jim Crow period until the doctrine of separate but equal was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. ...

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