NewTalk,2008-02-11://2 2013-06-05T16:30:37Z Where experts discuss America's toughest issues Movable Type Publishing Platform 4.02a NewTalkers in the News: Jay Greene,2009://2.94 2009-09-14T16:47:33Z 2009-09-14T21:28:27Z Admin Jay Greene—the moderator of NewTalk's 2nd forum on NCLB—discusses "The Problems With Special Ed" in the National Review Online.  Greene is concerned about the increasing number of public school children categorized as "learning disabled," and the dramatic variation from state to state.  He notes that nearly twice as many New Jersey students are classified as disabled as their California counterparts.  "There is no medical ‎reason," he argues, "why students in New Jersey should be 71 percent more likely to be placed into ‎special education than students in California."

Greene notes that over the last three decades, the number of students classified as disabled has increased 63%, and 86% of that increase has been in two categories—"specific learning disability (SLD, which includes dyslexia) and 'other health' (which ‎includes attention-deficit disorders—ADD)," which categories Greene describes as "relatively mild and ‎ambiguous.”‎

Greene aruges that the upshot of this is an alarming number of speciously-, or just plain wrongly-diagnosed Special Ed students—students who "may be struggling because they ‎have been taught poorly or because they have a difficult home life" but in fact have no true diability; "wrongly identified ‎as disabled who really need only remedial education.‎"

Greene cites various probable cuse such as extra federal funding given to schools for disabilities.  He also enumerates a number of dangers he sees in this systemic misclassification—ranging from inefficiencies and mountains of unnecessary procedural paperwork to detrimental stigmatization and inappropriately lowered academic expecations, as well as fewer available resources for the truly disabled students.

Greene's solution is to "develop procedures for identifying and auditing disability classifications independent of the school ‎systems, which suffer from obvious conflicts of interest. If reforms are not instituted," he says, "it won’t be ‎long until we live in a Lake Woebegone where all children are above average, and the ones ‎who aren’t are labeled 'disabled.'" [Nation Review Online]‎