News

Students of color overrepresented in special ed

School board to discuss Palo Alto's plan to ease disparity, under orders from state

The overrepresentation of Palo Alto's Hispanic and African-American students in special education will be the subject of a report to the school board tonight.

Palo Alto is one of 17 out of California's 1,000 school districts to be labeled by the state Department of Education as having "significant disproportionality" in special ed.

School board members tonight will get an update on the district's plan to reduce the "disproportionality," which is the subject of special monitoring by the state.

"A high percentage of students of color are in special education by the end of fifth grade and the numbers rise by the end of eighth grade," Associate Superintendent Virginia Davis said in a report to the board.

For example, at one unnamed middle school in the district, 50 percent of Hispanic fifth graders and 25 percent of African-American fifth graders were in special education in 2006-07. At the same school three years later, 55 percent of the Hispanic students and 33 percent of the African-American students were in special ed.

Davis described a four-pronged plan to remedy the disproportion, relying heavily on early intervention for students showing signs of difficulty, known in education parlance as "response to intervention," or RTI.

"The 2010-11 school year has been focused on building institutional and school-level capacity," Davis said, including understanding of a "three-tiered" RTI model.

"These efforts should yield results with students as schools move into application during Year 2 and Year 3 of plan implementation."

Davis said each of Palo Alto's 17 campuses has developed a team of regular and special educators who have gathered for joint planning and training sessions on how to address the disproportionality.

In the future, "monitored student data must show fewer referrals to special education, specifically for students of color," she said.

Overall, about 10 percent of the district's 12,024 students are in special education.

As of last fall, Hispanic students comprised 10.2 percent and African-American students 3.1 percent of the district's total enrollment.

Also on the agenda for tonight's meeting are an update on the school district budget and a discussion of academic calendars for 2012-13 and 2013-14.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

Comments

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Posted by Doris
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

This has been the case ever since the Tinsley agreement was signed. Ravenswood has been bussing their special education students to Palo Alto to save money. Now we have to answer the question why special education in Palo Alto is disproportionally minority? Really?


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Posted by K
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

I was in special ed (i am a non minority) at first i hated it. going to the 'special' class was not cool. but after time a learned and appreciated the help and step up i was getting. i would get my homework done in special ed class :) smiles for me but i didn't realize what a help it was. i could ask questions and get the homework done and done right. vs. sitting at home lost and getting frustrated...
but being labled in need of special help due to race is wrong.
i'd glad there is an agency looking into this. it might be correct but it should be reviewed incase.
learn to love your special ed class! they are there to help you
i learned to love learning and smarts are something no one can take from you


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Posted by J
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

I met a Latina who was convinced her 10 year old son was put in special ed because her own English language skills are poor. She is not literate in Spanish or English. The family lives in Palo Alto so the children can attend Palo Alto schools.


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Posted by Member
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

Doris, I can't say I would not put any district past this practice; "Ravenswood has been bussing their special education students to Palo Alto to save money," however I want to know how you know this is a fact about Ravenswood?

It is more likely that J's experience is a more accurate explanation of what is happening in the Palo Alto School District; "10 year old son was put in special ed because her own English language skills are poor."

According to the National Center of Education Statistics, "Students who speak a language other than English at home and speak English with difficulty may be in need of special services. In 2007, an estimated 11 million elementary and secondary students, or 21 percent of all such students, spoke a language other than English at home."

For this reason I do not agree with your comment that the Ravenswood School District is 'identifying' students in need of special services and bussing those students out using the Tinsley Program.


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Posted by Arch Conservative
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:37 am

Could it be that a large number of "students of color" really need special ed classes to even try and keep up with what is one of the most and highly educated areas in the US?
"J's" comments in the previous letter say it all.


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:45 am

Special Ed is disproportionately expensive. Everyone, schools included, wish it wasn't necessary. Some kids need extra assistance that can't be given in a regular classroom without taking inordinate time away from "regular" students.

If your kid is lucky enough to get SP when needed, be grateful. If parents are illiterate (& maybe illegal residents), their kids probably lack a lot of basic skills in language & math & need SP.

Don't complain about what your kids get at taxpayer expense that you haven't or can't provide for them.


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Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:49 am

I'm confused about what "special ed" is. I thought it was for children who were developmentally challenged or had a physical disability. But it sounds like the school district is using it to help students struggling in class. These students would need tutoring and special attention from teachers, but I thought that happened in regular classes and after school session. So, what is "special ed" in the disrict??


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

To Member;

Doris is right. Ravenswood doesn't have $ for their own SP programs. A friend who teaches an elementary grade in Ravenswood says that many of their kids have learning difficulties way beyond what can be handled at her school & have to be sent out to other districts.


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Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Nat,

The statistics cited in the story refer to the percentage of students with a "IEPs" (Individualized Education Programs), which are mandated under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In Palo Alto, anyone who suspects a student is disabled may request an evaluation, and a school typically assigns to team to determine whether an assessment is necessary. Once a student has been assessed, an IEP meeting is held "to determine a student's eligibility for services." A student may be found eligible in the following categories:
Learning disabilities
Speech and language impairment
Deaf/blind
Visual impairment
Traumatic brain injury
Hearing impairment
Deafness
Other health impairment
Autism
Multiple handicaps
Orthopedic impairment
Emotional disturbance
Mental retardation


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Posted by Really Doris
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Doris,
Where's your data to back up your statement that special education students are accepted into the Tinsley program so they can be shipped off to Palo Alto to save money?

Really? I know you're more knowledgeable, and less "special" than than you are currently appearing? At least act like an adult and have concern for children who are immediately thrown into this system and educationally profiled, as it takes resources away fromt the children who really are in need of Special Education Services.

This is NOT new news, but good news to fix an "old" problem.

Love ALL children, for they ARE the future and try your very best not to incite hate, anger or malice.

Have a good day and be an example.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob Aulgur
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

We have many Asians in Palo Alto who are very limited in their English capabilities.
Many of their children are in our Palo Alto schools.
It would be interesting to see how many of these children are in SP programs?!!


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by we have the $$
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Compared to most public school districts in CA, we are very well off. We can afford to classify kids as needing help when many other districts would ignore the problem. The other issue - again money related - is that many parents of students who might need special services provide them with their own money thru outside tutors or simply sending them to a different school (like Charles Armstrong). Pretty much every white kid I know who really struggled in school has been pulled out of Paly by their parents and sent to a variety of places, has a large amount of support by tutors or has taken classes at SIL or Lydian, options that are only available with $$


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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I see the tough job our school administrators/educators face when they try to do the right thing by putting students who need help into appropriate classes. If they do, they are accused of punishing certain groups, and if they don't, they are accused of not helping them enough.

It's time for all of us to realize that no society or school system can guarantee equal results, despite offering equal opportunities. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we'll stop spending limited resources on issues that are much deeper than any school could address. Maybe some of these resources might be better spent by helping our 'gifted' students go to the next level. Let's not take away from those who are doing well by trying to lift the bottom and ensuring consistent and mediocre results. I believe some communist countries tried this a while ago, and they all failed.


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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Carlos,

Your information about education in the former socialist countries is skewed by politics and very inaccurate.

The US educational system - especially at its higher levels - encourages competition and self-centeredness. Decades later, we reap what we sowed with a harvest of hedonistic, thieving, game-the-system white collar criminals at every level of private enterprise, especially finance, or filling the better paying ranks of government.
Yes, we do facilitate - better than most systems - the rise of a few already gifted minds into the incredible realms of achievement, but at what cost to the rest of society? And, frankly, is the creation of another marketable consumer toy worth the cost of losing our humanity in the process?

Cuba, for example, centers its education around cooperation and emulation and applies a hybrid system with pedagogical elements imported from the best of old Soviet Bloc + Western European + US experience. It graduates men and women (free education I might ad) who have been at the forefront of providing medical, agricultural and technological solutions to help keep the country running in spirte of the decades long economic blockade. These young people also provide quality low-cost health care and education throughout the underdeveloped world. And just to show that it is not substandard, many very wealthy individuals from other countries seek treatments in Cuba that are either unavailable or unaffordable elsewhere.

But, back to the silicon Valley -- if the education is so bad in the old communist countries, why are there so many thousands of former socialist bloc tecs employed here in the US?

To provide special services such as tutoring sessions or added staffing to help children who, largely due to social constructs in their backgrounds - NOT their race itself - are at a disadvantage with other PA students who have never faced nor had to overcome similar legacies, is a laudable idea. To brand them as "special ed" - which will cause them to be tracked downward and dismissed as serious students for the rest of their lives -, is a dis-service and a carryover of the most rank sort of racism.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Aren't Asians "students of color"?

We don't see too many of them in special ed classes. Maybe their tiger moms are are doing the right thing.

White kids, in Palo Alto, tend to have family support, and they get sent to private schools for trust fund babies, unless they are part of the remnant working class.

Latinos and Blacks are behind the economic curve. They can't afford to send their disabled kids to special schools, and they don't, or refuse to, spend the massive effort to be tiger moms. PAUSD has decided that it wants to expiate liberal guilt, and spend lots of resources on these kids. It won't work, and it will take away from the upper-end students, but that is what is going on.



Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

As a Latino, I resent the phrase "students of color" or "people of color." It was a phrase made up by African-Americans like Jesse Jackson in an attempt to make their numbers look bigger. It marginalizes us by lumping everyone who isn't white into one pot. I would like the Weekly to stop using this phrase in the future.


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

JT,

That phrase doesn't marginalize anyone because it's silly and pretentious. Besides Latinos, people whose ancestors were American Indian, African, Mayan, Asian, Indian, middle Eastern, Filipino, Eskimo, Celtic, etc, all have skin "colors" varying from light or dark pink, yellow, orange, tan, many shades of brown, to near-purplish black. "People of color" can be used to describe just about everyone but Albinos so it's quite meaningless. Not a phrase many people use or pay attention to because it is so inaccurate.


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Posted by Think a little bit.
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Walk into the Resource Room..walk into the Summer School Remedial programs..and you will see a "disproportionate number of students of color"...and then, stay awhile, listen, observe, and you will see these are kids who are being given every opportunity possible to succeed in an enviornment where most of the kids have 2-parent families, both parents highly educated who read/played/put in stimulating camps/help with homework, help with how to think daily..in good English, , music lessons, extra tutoring at Kumon etc.

C'mon folks, this isn't racism, this is trying to get some kids who had none of the above a better chance. And, like it or not, the reality is that kids of color have a higher chance of missing some or all of the above ingredients in their upbringing.

What is the alternative, in the interest of decreasing the appearance of racism..cut all services? Sink or Swim? What do you think would happen?


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Posted by Think a little bit.
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Think a little bit, JT et al

As a Black Latina, American Indian, African-American, Irish and Norwegian-American former GATE student from Berkeley (way back in the day), I can personally vouch for the fact that some special programs and intentional targeting of "students of color" for additional support is not only an often necessary move, but also an historically just one for all the reasons that you and others have mentioned.

What I am objecting to is that these services are offered under an umbrella that adds to the problems that these kids can face and further stigmatizes the children for the rest of their lives.

What I object to is the unfortunate truth that in MOST cases, this has NOT been done out of sensitivity or even a righteous guilt, but as a way of "dealing" with "problem" children precisely so the high-functioning, mostly Caucasian, achievers are not too terribly set back by alternative approaches to healing the social divides that become as apparent in our classrooms as they are elsewhere.

I respect a desire to protect the "normal" student, but not if it means just kicking the can further down the road.

The social consequences of the decisions and missed opportunities to do the right thing toward Black and Latino, but 3rd and 4th generation Asian-Americans who built this country on the part of middle and upper-middle class communities whose parent's, grandparents' and great-grandparents' before them benefitted directly and indirectly from the injustices suffered by the distant and not so distant ancestors of today's schoolkids is - from all evidence - what the root problem truly is. Unless it is dealt with as such, approached by an educational system that is honest and open about the problem, we will have these half-measures that can either help or hinder, as well as the reactions and "not in my backyard-ism" that has also manifested today in the comments.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm

"The social consequences of the decisions and missed opportunities to do the right thing toward Black and Latino, but 3rd and 4th generation Asian-Americans who built this country on the part of middle and upper-middle class communities whose parent's, grandparents' and great-grandparents' before them benefitted directly and indirectly from the injustices suffered by the distant and not so distant ancestors of today's schoolkids is - from all evidence - what the root problem truly is."

That is complete racist rant. The majority of poor people in this country are still white people. My own parents were very poor...but they worked hard with their hands. They didn't complain, they just worked. They died poor, too, but they instilled a sense of the work ethic in me.

DDEE, as a "Black Latina, American Indian, African-American, Irish and Norwegian-American", does no honor to any of those races/cultures. She is the problem, not the solution. Pride goeth before the fall... Her day is over.


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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Dearest Think a little bit…

1-“ you really hate us, don't you”
– NO, I love my country and neighbors very much. Love moves me to try and speak honestly about issues and the little uglies that we endeavor to hide about ourselves. How else can we can try to heal them? An enemy would prefer we stay blind and stupid.

2- “this horrid educational system is responsible for virtually every medical, technical and environemntal advance made in the world”
- Yes we do have and can take great pride in some great achievements, of which many more of those than most people realize are by Americans “of color”, however your statement is slightly inaccurate and a paen to the kind of angry blind nationalism that does us a collective dis-service in the real world.

3- “Bunch of greedy, selfish white guys have done so much bad.”
- Alas, we agree. Unlike you, however, I qualify the evildoers not by their race or color, but rather according to what they have done… to us as a country -- if you will just bother to take a drive outside of the valley and look around a bit you might notice the crisis they have wrought-- and to others.

4- “Cuba is SOOO much better off with its great education program! I suggest you raise your kids there when you have them.”
– It is hard to say with certainty what could have become of Cuba if the US had not waged a 50 year silent war against it, but one thing for sure, until recently, on almost every front it did better for its people than any other Latin American country was doing during the same period. I have very good first hand knowledge of Cuba’s ups and the downs, and while not blind to very serious downsides, I would have no qualm about my children living there even now if that is what they chose to do. But, once again, my love of country does not blind me to the ability to love what other people do well. For example, did you know that for several years now, Cuba – strangled by us economically – has been offering full scholarships and medical training to American students who want to be doctors in exchange for their promise to practice in low income and rural America when they graduate and return home? Are you aware that Cuba has the best emergency response system in this hemisphere (yes, even, by far, more efficient than ours) and offered us help after Katrina?

5- Vitriol does not become you, nor does it help us solve the problem raised in the article. Stick with dialogue, it works better.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm

DDee has drunk the koolaid of Castro. There is no cure. She closes her eyes to all the women and men who died, trying to escape that socialist hell-hole, on inner tubes, only to get third degree sunburns and hungry sharks. Her explications, using Castro's propaganda, only substantiates her her delusions. People of all colors should confine her to the pit of emotion and irrationality. The people of Cuba, if they were free to do so, would laugh in her face.


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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm

No, Sam, it is a class-conscious rant. IF the article and discussion had been about the fate of Palo Alto’s holy remnant of blue-collar and lower middle class kids, or indicated that they make up an unreasonably high percentage of the white students in Palo Alto’s special ed classes, I would have addressed some of the historical injustices underlying and manifest today of that as well… but it didn’t and – because little if anything is ever said about this particular portion of our community, I have no grounds to include them in my reflections.

My grandfather was a Wobbly, a labor organizer in the days prior to the AFL-CIO, and rode the rails across this entire country to wherever people were trying to get a fair shake from their bosses. My family includes longshore, building trades, printers, die-makers, sailors, soldiers, farmers, teachers and clergy. I know about exploitation of white people and the historical and heroic role that generations of European-Americans have played in raising our country to its highest peaks of progress and industry. I also know that the way we stay poor is by allowing those who aren’t to hide the issues and keep us divided. It worked that way in the south; it worked that way for far too long in labor unions; it works that way today.

I am not a racist, and least of all “the” racist in this debate nor would I go so far as to accuse anyone who has commented today as being personally racist. But that does not inhibit me from asserting that racism is part of the root of the problem that is being discussed in the article. The root goes deeper than the teachers and administrators themselves, but has very much to do with the kinds of solutions and the ways in which we frame the question.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@ Doris: Your first post is a bunch of baloney, a patently false statement.

The Ravenswood District has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Under the Tinsley Agreement, families must apply to attend the PAUSD. If there are more students applying than spots (siblings receive first priority), then there is a lottery. The Ravenswood District does not participate in the process whatsoever.




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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Don't have to ask them Sam, I am one.
No Koolaid, just not blind and not ignorant.
Do your own investigating rather than relying on your own version of propaganda machine. Survey Cubans making the trip, and Haitians, and Domincans... they share a similar dream and left home for similar reasons. Politics is what separates them.
Can you guess how many people have never had a job in Miami that was not predicated on milking anti-Castro sentiment for all it was worth?
Been there, done that, it doesn't work and even worse, it adds to the problem.
But, I am guessing from the turn to personal attack that you have run out of actual factual argument, so I'll just repeat what I've been saying...Dialogue, Sam, like I said to Think a little bit... that is our best and most humanely Christian way to find solutions.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Member
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Crescent Park Dad is absolutely correct in explaining the process for students using Tinsley to attend schools outside the Ravenswood School District, a point that would have been appropriate for me to make in my original response. Students receive the opportunity to apply and applicants are limited by the grade level they are entering in the year they are applying for. If applicants have older siblings who have already been accepted they are given priority, and the remaining applications go into a lottery, as Crescent Park Dad stated.

Another point to make is that many of the families who receive information about this option will not pursue it for numerous reasons; maybe they don't have someone to help complete the application for them and there is no guarantee about which school the student will be assigned which brings up transportation and after school activities considerations, and other reasons such as these. I don't have children in Ravenswood schools so I do not know if this information is dispersed through schools or not. I do know that I receive information about Tinsley in the mail.

The statistics from the study I mentioned in my earlier comment found that students who spoke a second language at home were more likely to need special services. It is probably safe to assume that if English is not the student's first language, that his or her parents are immigrants and in CA, probably from a South American country. So the question is, are schools identifying students who will struggle because English is their second language or are they targeting their race and labeling them? Maybe it's the saying the same thing but the issue seems to lie in what the motivations of the schools are; to ASSIST or LABEL students? And is it a question of how much funds the schools receive or lose having a certain number of students using special educational services? This is what I am drawing from some the comments anyway, though I want to remove the anger and especially the insult because it is not conducive to a real discussion.


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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 8:17 pm

To Member... Amen!

I think it would be very difficult to find a good teacher or administrator who made such decisions without believing that they are doing what is best for the student. The problem may be that the alternatives presented to them are imperfect.

Unquestionably, many students coming out of less affluent sectors of society, or groups that have had less exposure to possibilities of academic upward momentum, will enter school at a disadvantage compared to students who homes are full of literature, whose parents are learned themselves, and whose employment often allows for gemnerous amounts of time for direct supervision and participation with their children and their schoolwork... in whatever language.

In this era of eval;uating teachers according to how they produce results on student tests and of not letting students repeat grades as needed, it may well be that faced with a situation in which a child may not be any of the things on the list for special education, and may have a potential that the teacher feels can be awakened if given an opportunity, but for a variety of other reasons is simply going to drown if left in a regular class, the only other option is to request an IEP and get that student into special ed.

Perhaps you remember the old tracking system. In it only a realtive few students were tracked in track 1 and provided with a wealth of resources and instruction to easily enter college; track 2 was a sink or swim state; while tracks 3 and 4 were pretty much pre-determining that those students would compete for manual labor jobs if that. Teachers did not invent that mess, but were forced to try and figure out how best to assist a child within its framework. How to handle a child ill-prepared, while not throwing them headfirst into waters too deep for them to swim, but knowing that once a kid was tracked 4 there was no getting out no matter how mislocated he or she may have been or why.

That is my concern with the article and special ed designations today. It is supposed to help and it may do just that for many, but how many special ed kids does the administration of a school ever consider will be able to apply for a good college, and - as a result - how many other opportunities farther down the line are they ruled out for.

Ask parents with ADD-identified boys back in the 80s how they felt about their children getting a label that stuck for years, accompanied often by mandatory medicating in order to have the right to stay in the classroom. With it, as convenient and sometimes - in some cases - necessary but vastly overapplied, society shifted the responsibility from itself and put the onus of proof on the small child as to whether we as a group should hold out any assistance, hope or expectation of them or their human potential. That, in my book, is a sin.


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Posted by uh
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I don't know where you are trying to go with this language issue. There are many, many Palo Alto kids who have English as a second language and who speak a different language at home, be it Chinese, Korean, German, French, Russian or what have you. They are not sent to special ed.


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Posted by Carlito Waysman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:58 pm


Minority groups make the bulk of ED students? Where is the big surprise? Unless you live in a bubble or under a rock, you could not found the relation between socioeconomic status and performance in academics.

The socioeconomic status of the Caucasian and Asian population( which by the way they have their trademark colors too, being white for the Caucasians and yellow for the Chinese,Korean and dark brown for the Indians) living in Palo Alto, mostly own their homes,for most money is not an issue, are white collar workers, entrepreneurs, CEOs of some company, or foreign born inmigrants with loads of money; obviously a high level of education is assumed in their households, highly likely their kids are overachievers.

Then you have the Latinos and African-Americans( brown and black), mostly they do blue collar work; probably they are the ones cooking the food we eat when we go to a Palo Alto food establishment, tend to our luscious gardens, clean our houses, baby-seat for us while we go out, mostly rent where they live, their household education level is not up to par to the rest of the Palo Alto populace. Highly likely their kids are Special Ed students.

So, now how do you fix this situation of the perennial underachieving student?




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Posted by Dr. E-P
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Achievement Gap? anyone cares to check which school district has the biggest achievement gap in the NATION??
Some EPA kids enter Kindergarten @Palo Alto school district, and end, yes - written above.
Most affluent kids will make it anyways - family will take care. Those who can not - check math teaching @younger ages, entitlement based system (across the board) and more.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2011 at 8:35 am

I'm really tired of all this racial parsing. In order to succeed in our schools, any student needs every possible advantage, whether it be highly educated parents, private tutors, costly coaches, private lessons, bribes, interventions, sports, healthy food, a pleasant home environment, parental attention and support - just read up on developmental assets. None of this is based on race. It is based on whether those who chose to become parents made the necessary preparations beforehand to offer their children a good start. My own parents did not. The result was, their children had a very hard time getting launched in life. My husband and I did. We had to work very hard before having children, in order to give them the support all children deserve. The result - our children are getting a good launch - the rest is up to them. Race should not be discussed in this arena. Parents are accountable for what they provide for their children. To dump the responsibility on others is to wrong the children.


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Posted by Think a little bit.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

Observer..all I can say is AMEN!!!


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Posted by Mr. Ironic
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

My son is in the Revenswood system and last year I learned about "Inclusion" the hard way. A special needs kids was in his class and that kid got into at least 30 fights before the end of the school year and this is kindergarden and the kid was from west menlo park not epa or east menlo. They told me that due to the "Inclusion" laws they couldn't separate the kid from the class and put him in a special needs class. Dont blame tinsley blame the parents of the 19% of the tinsley kids that need help in math and the parents of the 23% of tinsley kids that need help in literacy.

With the new overpopulated PA school issues I knew Tinsley would catch hell.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Racism in PAUSD? Of course! I was told that it didn't exist in Palo Alto by my supervisor. Boy, was she WRONG! Wake call to all covert racists in PAUSD: you don't have to wear a Klan hood to be a racist. Covert racism is just as awful and harmful. Maybe more so than overt racism?


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 27, 2011 at 1:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by missing something?
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Interesting debate.
The parents I've talked to who manage to get the extra help for their children are typically happy their child gets the attention. (My biggest problem with Palo Alto Schools, especially JLS, is that kids just disappear.)

I thought special ed is a way to help bring the other kids up? Is the answer not to refer kids in order to keep the ratios? If it's just a matter of thinking that perhaps there are some non-minority kids out there who need the same help, then let's just be more deliberate about identifying who needs help. Find a way besides skin color and language to do it.


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

There are many parents in Palo Alto whose children are tested, found to having learning differences and receive help ALL outside the District. These are white kids that should/could be classified as special ed, but their parents do not want the label and are able to pay for the help they need.


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Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2011 at 11:54 pm

It's called equal opportunity, equal unless you're white that is.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2011 at 7:25 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The obvious solution is to eliminate the classification of students by race.


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Posted by Answer to Walter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 29, 2011 at 6:16 am

No, Walter, based on the complaints of racism here, I think that we need to be sure to not accept more students of color into special ed than are in the general population, regardless of whether or not they need it.

To be sure to appease those who see everything through the prism of race, not content, let's just let anyone above a certain percent who is "of color" sink or swim, with no help or support.

Would save us money anyway. Not sure we would be happy with the failure and drop out rate, though. But that would be fine, at least we wouldn't be 'racist' any more, since our percentages in special ed would match up with the general population!


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

What is the ratio of fat to skinny kids? What about rich to poor kids? Tall to short? Protestant to Catholic?
What about a skinny, poor, short Catholic kid? Each of these is a legitimate classification. It is just than none of it has relevance except educational achievement. But if you want a return to a quota system, be up front about it.


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Posted by Answer to Walter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 1, 2011 at 9:48 am

Walter: Not sure if your post was in response to mine or not, but I should have clarified I was being both sarcastic and ironic.

I compeletely agree with you. To charge "racism", a charge I am heartily sick to death of and therefore now immune to, because there are more non-white kids than white kids in special ed is absurd. The answer to absurd is to be absurd.

Sarcasm on:

Solve the problem, make sure there are strict quotas for colors, deny services to those non-white kids who need them and increase the number of white kids in special ed..and VOILA, no more racism!! ( ha ha)

I like your idea...let's be sure that the percentage of tall, skinny, short, fat, those with glasses and without glasses, various disabilities from ADHD to Cerebral Palsy are also represented according to the general population so we can be sure to be really fair.

Whatever we do, we simply can NOT provide support to kids on the basis of who needs it, only on the basis of who fits some kind of profile.

Sarcasm off.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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