In the United States, our current system of public education is characterized by academic achievement as a function of race, ethnicity, primary language use, and socioeconomic status (Hilliard, 1992). Moreover, in our public school system, 1 in 3 of all students is of an immigrant or racial/ethnic minority background (Agbenyega & Jiggetts, 1999). These students are frequently overrepresented in substantially separate educational settings, especially in special education programs (e.g., Hoover & Patton, 2005). In fact, it has been estimated that up to 40% of all special education students are of a minority background (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). The Office of Civil Rights has found that African American students are overrepresented in services for emotional disturbances, American Indian and immigrant students are overrepresented in services for learning disabilities, and African American, American Indian, and Latino and other immigrant students are all underrepresented in programs for gifted and talented students (Hosp & Reschly, 2004). In addition, students from Spanish-speaking, English Language Learner (ELL) backgrounds tend to be overly referred to specialized programs for students with speech and language learning disabilities (Brantlinger, 2006). The educational discrepancies presented here involving students of immigrant and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds have been of ongoing concern for the past four decades in the U.S.
Weinstein, T.L. (2009) Educating immigrant and racial/ethnic minority youth in special education programs. The Community Psychologist, 42, 31-34.