Special Education in Urban Education
September 28, 2018 | Courtney Dignan, 2018 AAPD Summer Intern
Within the realm of urban public education, the school to prison pipeline is a very real phenomenon. Underfunded schools with little resources facilitate a cycle where students are not well prepared for life after high school and as a result, these individuals become institutionalized via incarceration. With my background in urban education, I have always been incredibly passionate about ending this horrific pipeline, but now as a disabled advocate myself, I am incredibly curious as to how disability intersects with these race and socioeconomic status issues.
A huge portion of the problem is the lack of conversation that actively works towards better and more inclusive special education in urban schools. Within our government educational reform dialogues, it tends to be focused around either urban education or special education across the board. There needs to be funding dedicated to urban school districts that not only focus on transition planning for the general population, but those with disabilities as well. A solution to the pipeline is to start planning for a successful future early in a student’s academic career, which seems simple, but is not implemented in practice often enough — and hardly ever for students with disabilities. Students in all types of schools across the country should be receiving college visits to inspire them to continue their education and to value education. Students should all be receiving access to job training. These practices need to be inclusive of those with disabilities. Urban education special education programs should be advertising local college programs ranging from disability resource centers on campus all the way to college inclusion programs. There must be a structural change in how we solve the pipeline crisis. The systemic barriers that face the urban community also face the disability community within that demographic. There must be a seat at the table for disability rights as they pertain to this issue.
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Courtney Dignan is a 2018 AAPD Summer Intern. She interned with the American Council of the Blind.