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Research has often indicated that African American male students are placed in special education in disproportionate numbers. Many reasons have been advanced for this disparity in placement, including placement and testing procedures, cultural differences, parent and teaching training problems, economic factors, and the failure of schools to educate them adequately. Disparities in representation of white and African American males in special education were studied in 10 cities, and the racial composition of the teaching staff was also studied. A relationship was found between the number of black male students placed in special education and the number of white teachers in the school system. The cities with the highest percentage of white teachers had the highest percentage of black students identified as "special." All the cities in the study exhibited excessive black male special education placement. It was expected that this would be worse in cities with many white teachers (white dominant) and less so in cities with many black teachers (black dominant). For the most part, this expectation was confirmed. Cities with the highest proportions of black teachers (Atlanta, Georgia and the District of Columbia) placed black males at the lowest rate. Cities with an intermediate level of black teachers placed these students at an intermediate rate. These cities included: (1) Cleveland, Ohio; (2) Miami, Florida; (3) Chicago, Illinois; (4) Houston, Texas; and (5) Detroit, Michigan. Finally, the cities with the lowest proportion of black teachers (New York, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and San Diego, California) were the least receptive to cultural, racial, and sexual differences. In these school districts, at least one out of every six black males would end up in special education. It is concluded that while dominance of the teacher racial group is an indicator of disproportionate special education placement, the influence of black administrative power, political economic empowerment, and cultural heterogeneity are important explanatory variables, as seen in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC. (Contains 3 tables and 34 references.) (SLD)

Descriptors: Black Students, Black Teachers, Cultural Differences, Disproportionate Representation, Elementary Secondary Education, Males, Racial Composition, Special Education, Student Placement, Urban Youth

Autor: Herrera, Janette


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