The special education programs in the United States have been designed to help children with special needs learn easier and fit in better with the education program. Unfortunately, many minority students get caught up in the mix and don’t get the proper attention they deserve. Furthermore, minority students are seriously over-represented in the educational programs. Many minority students are misdiagnosed and put into special education programs when in fact; they do not have a learning disability. This has become a growing problem in this country because it is seen as the easy way out. Schools all over the U.S. are doing this in order to not have to properly test and evaluate students for learning problems.
There have been numerous studies done on this topic, from assessing migrant students for special education programs to trying to understand why many language minority students are being put into special education programs. Data during the 1998-1999 school year showed that American Indians and Blacks were over represented in special education programs (National Center for Learning Disabilities [NCLD], n.d.).
The term special education is hard to define because recently, it has taken on many new meanings. During the 1960’s people were trying to get the Federal government to fund efforts to provide a free and appropriate education for children with disabilities. Also during this time and into the 1970’s, parents of children with disabilities began to address state laws that would require local education agencies to give special education services to students with disabilities (ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education [ERIC], 1998). Even after the passage of these laws in many states, children still were not given proper care and either remained unserved or underserved. As a result of this, there have been two landmark Federal court decisions about the ongoing problem of special education. The two important court rulings were the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1971 and Mills vs. The Board of Education of the District of Columbia in 1972 (ERIC Clearinghouse, 1998). These court decisions showed that “the responsibility of States and local school districts to educate individuals with disabilities is derived from the equal protection law of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”(ERIC Clearinghouse, 1998, n.p.)
The special education programs of the United States have definitely come very far in the last 25 years, but little progress has been made about minority or sometimes considered migrant, special education students. A migrant student is one that transfers from school district to school district with his parents who are trying to find seasonal employment (Lozano-Rodriguez & Costellano, 1999). It has been shown that even though these migrant students do not get the attention they deserve they are some of the most needy special...