Friday, December 27, 2002

Percentage change since 1990 in the number of U.S. schoolchildren labeled “disabled”: +37

There is a $imple and $traightforward rea$on why teachers (and parents) choose to label some kids as “learning disabled”.  Can you gue$$ what that ju$tification might be?  Lisa Snell on ReasonOnline spells it out in an article titled “Special Education Confidential: How schools use the learning disability label to cover up their failures.”  A must read.

In a related article, Joanne Jacobs has commented on the little-noted syndrome of PADS, or Parental Affluence Disability Syndrome.  In this FoxNews story, she reports that learning disabilities seem to strike upper-middle-class kids much more frequently than less well-to-do children; these handicapped kids are then given extra time to complete standardized tests such as the SAT.  A related New York Times article noted: “…a study by the California state auditor found that private school students were four times as likely as public school students to receive accommodations.”

Editor’s Note: Before some of you start sending me hate mail, understand that I realize there are legitimate learning disabilities and that state and federal programs to help kids who really need it are vitally important.  However, I can’t help but wonder how the tendency towards post-modernism (i.e. “anything goes” subjectivity) blurs the distinction between true achievement and finding a loophole.  Take this possible scenario: a teenager from a well-heeled family claims he has attention-deficit disorder and gets an extra 90 minutes on his SAT, thereby securing a higher score than he would have achieved otherwise.  Then, for his college essay, he writes a fictional biographical account that gives the impression he belongs to a minority group.  Berkeley, avoiding “quotas” but seeking “diversity” and rewarding "life challenges" accepts him while rejecting someone else who, while a better candidate, unfortunately followed the rules.

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