Science & Tech

Minority students more likely to be labeled “mentally retarded”

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School districts nationwide improperly place minority students in special education classes

When compared with their white counterparts, African-American children were almost three times more likely to be labeled “mentally retarded,” according to a paper by Thomas B. Parrish, managing research scientist at the American Institutes of Research. New statistics compiled on each state show both over- and under-representation of minorities in the categories for “mental retardation,” “specific learning disabilities,” and “emotional disturbance.” African-American students in Connecticut, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Nebraska are more than four times as likely to be identified as mentally retarded than white students living in those states. In Florida, Alabama, Delaware, New Jersey, and Colorado, the number of African-American students identified as mentally retarded was more than three times that of white students.