Restructuring and Reforming: Rat Race for Excellence or FailureReport as inadecuate

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This paper considers the impact of school reform and restructuring programs on African-American students with exceptionalities and suggests strategies for general and special educators, policymakers, and administrators. It reviews the history of school reforms and concludes that the America 2000/Goals 2000 program and the 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act both fail to address the needs of African-American and other at-risk students because of their heavy reliance on tests. Teacher education programs are also criticized for their heavy reliance on tests for admission and program completion as well as on their "soullessness" and "poverty of the teaching spirit." Most reform efforts are seen to address "quality" but not "equity" and thus cause more problems than they solve. Recommendations for responsible reform and restructuring programs for African-American exceptional learners include: (1) ensuring that adequate cultural knowledge is included in professional standards; (2) recruiting and retaining African-American general and special educators at all levels; (3) focusing on problem solutions and not problem politics; (4) addressing issues of equity and excellence; and (5) creating a Comprehensive Support Model to involve students, parents, schools, and communities. (Contains 19 references.) (DB)

Descriptors: Black Students, Cultural Differences, Disabilities, Educational Change, Educational Legislation, Educational Quality, Educational Trends, Elementary Secondary Education, Equal Education, Higher Education, Politics of Education, School Restructuring, Special Needs Students, Teacher Education Programs, Trend Analysis

Author: Obiakor, Festus E.; Ford, Bridgie Alexis


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