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In the choice theory, Glasser (1998) presented ten axioms which are: 1. The person that can control his or her behavior is himself or herself. 2. Information is the only thing other individuals provide to another person. 3. Problems in relationships are psychological problems described to be long-lasting. 4. A problematic relationship is a constant part of everyday existence. 5. Those that transpired in the past defines what the person is today; however, he or she can only gratify his or her basic needs and plan to maintain its future satisfaction. 6. One can say that his or her needs are satisfied when pictures in his or her "quality world" are satisfied. 7. What an individual can do is behave. 8. All that constitute a person's behavior is his or her total behavior which is divided into four aspects: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology. 9. All that comprise total behavior is chosen, but individuals can only gain control over actions and thoughts. Feelings and physiology can be controlled indirectly by the choice of actions and thoughts. 10. Total behavior is designated using verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.
Love and Logic, a discipline program by Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline teach educators and parents learn skills that help their students or children be more responsible, make decisions and choices, and face sanctions or consequences of actions. They advised teachers and parents to lovingly and logically think, respond, and deal with their students or children. When a task is assigned, choices are made, and experience failure, the results of their decisions are to be treated lovingly and emphatically by their teachers and parents. Children should be made to think and face the results of their decisions and behaviors.
This discipline program "uses humor, hope, and empathy to build up the adult/child relationship, emphasizes respect and dignity for both children and adults, provides real limits in a loving way, [and] teaches consequences and healthy decision-making". It is likewise founded by four core beliefs which are as follows: "Discipline is effective when it is a central part of learning", "Misbehavior finds its roots in discouragement and control issues", "Modeling of self-disciplined behavior is our best teaching tool", and "The most critical component of discipline is the relationship that is built between the teacher and the student" (Fay and Cline, 1997). Principles that guide Love and Logic include "The student's self-concept is always a prime consideration." "The child is always left with a feeling that he/she has some control." "An equal balance of consequences and empathy replaces punishment whenever possible." "The student is required to do more thinking than the adult."
In "Students Speak: Effective Discipline for Today's Schools Building a Sense of Community", Barber and Geddes (1997), four basic needs should be addressed in order for students to prosper and success in both home and school. When students sensed that their needs to be included in a group, exercise control, receive affection, and become competent, they feel they belong within their families and schools. "This will bond the students to us, to the school, and to a lifelong love of learning. When we don't address these needs, and the students have not had them fulfilled at home, we increase the odds for them turning to drugs, alcohol, gangs, and cults and turning on us". Essentially, students who are able to meet their needs are very likely to complete their classroom tasks and assignments. If they have not, they tend to be aggressive, passive or withdrawn. Inclusion refers to be included in a group. It implies that the individual, child, or student has fitted in with colleagues, friends, and classmates and have a feeling of acceptance. As a teacher, he or she has to "provide activities so that all kids in the class interact with each other on a regular basis ... [and] behavior and the activities [provided] need to send the message that every kid in [the] classroom is in". Control implies that the individual is able to exercise some amount of control over aspects of his or her life, but not total control. The role of the teacher is "give kids enough control to satisfy their need, while at the same time maintaining the control [needed] to effectively teach the class". Affection denotes the feeling of love or being loved or liking or being liked. So that this need will be satisfied in the classroom setting, the teacher should "provide activities and model behavior that sends the message that we all like each other". Competency refers to an individual's feeling that he or she can perform and accomplish designated work. As a teacher, he or she should assign a task that students will believe they can complete it successfully 70-80% of the time. Having satisfied these needs, the intactness of the child's self-worth, self-esteem, and self-concept is guaranteed.
Strength to Love
Martin Luther King Jr. is popularly known in American culture as a civil rights activist in the 1950's and 1960s; his public acts and speeches have left an indelible mark in American history. His oratorical ability came for the most part from his being a preacher at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and part of his task is to frequently deliver his sermons in the congregation. His work, A Strength to Love is a collection of his sermons depicting his theological beliefs and social justice. Contained in the book is his theology of nonviolence, justice, love of the divine, and interconnectedness of all racial backgrounds in the human community. The conventional ideas and phrases in his work brought out new interpretations like his idea of becoming a nonconformist or showing love to enemies. He also talked that it is difficult to be a nonconformist and echoed Transcendentalists like Nieubr, Thoreau, and Emerson. He did not speak of the type of nonconformity typifying adolescent angst and rebellion instead on putting an end to the prevalent societal norm towards transformation in furthering gospel messages and love.
King claimed that of all the commandments of Jesus, loving one's enemies seemed most difficulty to practice. He asked the question how to love one's enemies and at the same time cited why they should be loved concluding that "love is the most durable power in the world". Love, being not only creative but also a transformative power, remains to be the solution for a meaningful and lasting peace. He cited Napoleon Bonaparte, the builder of the French empire and observed that empires and authorities relying on the use of force are fated to fail but it is only Jesus' empire whose foundation is love that will prevail after succeeding generations.
Research Related to African American and Special Education
Teachers' Perceptions of Students
It is an established fact that academic expectations are positively correlated with student achievement (Armendariz, 2000). However, roughly 37% of teachers hold that when expectations are high, achievement is also high (MetLife, 2001). For instance, if a teacher regards students of minority groups such as African Americans as incompetent or not having the potential of White Americans, the African American students in this case are victims of discrimination and low expectations. If the teacher does not give assignments or homework because of the perception that African American students are incapable and not going to complete it, they are again victims. Though some students representing the minority can still be successful under these circumstances, poor test scores and overall achievement are inevitable. This is one of many prejudicial feelings since it attributes a specific behavior or characteristic to the entire members of a minority. What most probably is the major problem with low expectations is that when students are taught by teachers who are not confident in them, the students may display disruptive or deviant behavior since they perceived the teachers' treatment as a insult to their dignity as competent students or as simply human beings. Primarily, their alternative is non-compliance or refusal in working with particular teachers (Dempsey, 2006). On a similar note, if the teacher believes that African American parents do not value their child's education, this teacher's efforts to collaborate with African American parents on their child's behalf could potentially be hampered. This outlook by the teacher can be discerned by the African American parents, resulting in resentment. Parent-teacher cooperation therefore is difficult to achieve. It becomes worse when the parent considers that establishing a strong parent-teacher relationship is the primary responsibility of the teacher. This racist attitude can also be expressed when teachers refer to African Americans as "them". African Americans are considered the "problem people", not individuals with problems. This implies that African American students should do their best culturally, morally, and academically to ensure a healthy racial relations and increased academic success (West, 2008 as cited in Noel, 2008). Lastly, in the 2003-2004 Department of Education survey, there were several teacher attitudes that are interesting. Teachers were asked to enumerate what they thought are serious problems in school. Top five problems pertained to student behaviors and circumstances. Most cited were students disrespecting their teachers, students who are unprepared for the day's lessons, and parents who are not involved with their child's academic standing. In the fourth and fifth position are poverty and student apathy, respectively (Snyder, Pillow, & Hoffman, 2007). Though the focus of this survey is not urban schools, teachers believed that in solving these problems, students should change their attitudes and behaviors.
Students' Perceptions of Teachers
The past decades saw the increased attention given to how students perceived their teachers with particular focus on African American students. For example, a frequent complaint of African American high school students is that their White American teachers cannot relate to them very well. Several studies were conducted aimed at assessing the impact of race on the faculty and students and their effectiveness in identifying with students and vice versa. Felsenthal (1970) and Graybill (1997) believed that there must be a positive student-teacher relationship to encourage or promote academic achievement. In other words, the student should positively identify with teachers or else the student will perform poorly in school and become a failure in society.
Investigators like Biber and Lewis (1997), Cook (1978) and Felsenthal (1970) observed that racial background of teacher is not an issue for both African American students and teachers so long as the teachers are fair, effective, and caring. Moreover, White American teachers motivate their African American students in the same effectiveness as African American teachers.
In spite of this positive treatment, some researchers like Brophy (1983), Casteel (1998), Cecil (1988), Ford (1985), Good (1981), Holliday (1985), Marcus et al. ( 1991), Nieto et al. (1994), Rabinow and Cooper (1981), Rong (1996), and Troyna (1990) concluded that African American students were more ignored, attended to less, and more frequently reprimanded as opposed to their White American counterparts.
Various ethnic cultures in the US are defined by race and only six races are recognized by the US census. This system of dividing groups of people in terms of color is a social norm particularly in the US. Despite this transition in the social and natural sciences away from the social norm, delineation of citizens in the US is by race.
Smedley 's (1998) definition of racial group in the "Race and the Construction of Human Identity" is "the organization of all peoples into a limited number of unequal or ranked categories theoretically based on differences in their biophysical traits". Smedley contended that the conventional concept of race is not existent in ancient history and early peoples classified themselves by city, occupation, culture and the like. Likewise, Smedley said that anthropology and biology have established the connection between racial identity and social construction. She also distinguished race from ethnicity, which is currently treated "as if they are similar phenomena". She emphasized that in the US, race is "the biophysical features of different populations, [â€¦] internalized as sources of individual and group identities".
Re-segregation of schools
"An important issue in the ongoing debate on educational inequality between the races is the importance of educational segregation in perpetuating this inequality" (Bankston & Caldas,
1998, p. 535). In public schools, re-segregation appeared to be prevalent and has fueled a series of debates in the academe on the level of efficacy of African American students who attended integrated schools. One argument said that segregation places African American students at a disadvantage while another mentioned it does not harm African American students and may well be considered beneficial to them (Bankston & Caldas, 1998).
Research on academic achievement gap observed in public schools among African and White Americans is clear, and though it has narrowed during the 1970s and 1980s, the 1990s has widened the gap once again (Lee, 2002 as cited in Williams, 2006). Should the view that academic performance of African American students neither does not or positively affected by segregation prevail? Bankston and Caldas in 1998 revealed that in Louisiana, racial segregation negatively impacts academic performance of African American students. Despite this alarming result in their study, majority of educators have not given so much attention to the effect of African American students' attendance in integrated schools.
The study of Bankston and Caldas (1998) involved 42,000 students in 342 public secondary schools in the state of Louisiana. Data from test results of the 1990 Graduation Exit Examination (GEE) were analyzed focusing on six research problems pertaining to the association between composition of African Americans in schools and their performance in GEE. Analyses looked into the relationship between socio-economic status and frequency of African Americans enrolled in schools. They found that the most of African American students had low test results. Seventy-one percent of African American students obtained scores below the median compared to White American students whose performance rating was better since 66% of them scored above the median.
Heath and Mickelson (1999) as cited in Williams (2006) concluded that racial segregation negatively affected academic performance among seniors in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, whose school system is known for the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenberg Supreme Court case in 1971. This particular case became pivotal in the annals of desegregation in the US public school system, as it made way for busing as a solution to desegregation in schools (Eaton & Orfield, 1996 as cited in Williams, 2006). The study was designed to investigate the association between segregation and achievement levels of African American students considering that racial segregation was between and within school. Data collected were from students in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools system students, archives, and interview responses among the faculty and administration. Heath and Mickelson (1999) as cited in Williams (2006) noted that segregation in the CMS school system was of two types, between and within. When school and individual factors were controlled, the authors found that attendance in a segregated elementary school had little negative effect on secondary school grades; the greater the duration of time enrolled in a racially segregated institution, academic performance in high school suffered. Analysis of within school segregation discovered that attendance to a "segregated minority elementary school had a direct negative effect on high school track placement" (p. 577). The probability of placement in college was negatively influenced by studying in an elementary school that is highly segregated.
The long term positive impact of desegregated education is noticeable in the course the student takes by gaining access to a wide variety of school setups. Orfield found that the more racially and ethnically diverse classrooms are at Cambridge, Massachusetts, educational outcomes improved (The Civil Rights Project, 2002 as cited in Williams, 2006). Trent (1997) as cited in Williams (2006) examined data from three studies namely National Longitudinal Survey of the High School Class 1972, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Labor Force Participation, and High School and Beyond. He concluded that "desegregated schooling has important long-term benefits for minority students, especially in terms of its ability to open up economic opportunities for them" (p. 257).
Urban School Failure
Instructors in public schools have been made to answer for the considerable failure of large public schools and very often their competence is being questioned. In response to these complaints, the education department attempted to enhance performance of teachers by subjecting them to more stringent licensure requirements (Colorado Senate Bill 99-154). Despite their efforts in standardizing and improving teacher performance, there are several ineffective practices and attitudes employed by teachers. Inefficient disciplinary and instructional methods distance teachers from their students, for instance making improper assumptions regarding their students' behavior, emanating from negative stereotypes which result to demeaning and unintentional practices by teachers (Dempsey, 2006). Other such behaviors may involve using judgments, sarcasm or labels, and inaction in relation to racial background or self-concept of students. In this scenario, teachers stay silent when effective instruction necessitates action, like responding to comments which are either demeaning or racist given by one student to another. A number of the practices have obvious racial connotations, like low behavioral and academic for selected minorities (Gay, 2000).
The success of top ranked Latin American schools is because of the "ethic of caring" according to Scribner (2008) as cited in Noel (2008), Foster (1995) as cited in Banks and Banks (1995), Cooper (2003), and Siddle-Walker (1993) likewise stressed the significance of having strong loving relationships especially with minority students, African Americans in particular. The following are behaviors that distance a teacher from students.
Neill (2003), Fletcher (2002), and Snyder, Pillow, and Hoffman (2007) concluded that test scores measuring basic skills of minority students are very low. In addition, the minority students' attentive and effort have been challenged. Aronson (2004) made it known that minority students are constantly stereotyped to be academically poor. Furthermore, some students have succumbed to this belief and have not tried to better themselves academically. If students are less attentive or inattentive in class, their grades suffer. Many African American students are observed to act on the stereotype that studying is "acting white" a terminology common in teacher education studies. Described in 1986 by Fordham and Ogbu, "acting white" denotes African Americans who neither study hard nor try to perform well in class and is used in castigating African Americans who are doing well in their grades. Though the study was on African Americans, Fordham and Ogbu (1986) cited that it is also the situation among Americans of Mexican or Indian descent. Fordham and Ogbu (1986) claimed that "acting white" is an opposition culture among peers that emerged as a response to the fear of failing. They likewise implied that African American students who are academically successful are "subordinating their black identity to their identity as Americans". Fordham (1988) also accused several high-achieving minority students who valued to be "acting white" as "clear examples of internalizing oppression". Since Fordham and Ogbu's controversial research was published in 1986, many have attempted to examine their conclusions. Tyson, Darity, and Castellino did a recent review of these studies. They observed that the researchers were classified with a number of studies providing little evidence supporting either the effect of the oppositional peer culture or acting white phenomenon (Ainsworth-Darnell & Downey, 1998; Cook & Ludwig, 1998 as cited in Jencks & Phillips, 1998).
Differentiated instruction is an effective instructional method that addresses differences among learners (Tomlinson, 2000), prevents the weaknesses of the one-size-fits-all curriculum (McBride, 2004), includes current results of brain studies (Tomlinson & Kalbfleisch, 1998; Tuttle, 2000) while encouraging variances in learning styles and multiple intelligences (Lawrence-Brown, 2004; Tuttle, 2000) in present-day classrooms. It is also a significant platform for teachers in inclusive classrooms in creating equal opportunities for educational success for students (Tomlinson, 2000). In differentiated classrooms, there is a balance between learning needs shared by all the students and more specific individual needs (Tomlinson, 2001).
Differentiation liberates students from labeling and stereotyping and offers students individualized opportunities to achieve (Tomlinson, 2003). It also pushes faculty members from finishing the syllabus to catering to the needs of individual students (Tomlinson, 1999). It permits the teacher to center on similar key concepts while varying the teaching strategies, pacing, and rate of understanding the principles (McAdamis, 2001; Tuttle, 2000). In differentiation, every student is provided with learning milieus that facilitate deeper understanding of the subject's important concepts (Tuttle, 2000). Teachers who chose differentiation found they could creatively and flexibly utilize their time and resources and assist in creating a collaborative classroom atmosphere (Tuttle, 2000). Hess (1999) reported that teachers find differentiation an appealing experience for teachers since it requires a different type of energy as opposed to direct instruction.
Numerous factors were found to influence achievement gap between White and African American students. Studies identified family, school, and structural factors relevant to the academic performance of African American students and suggested interventions that may help close the achievement gap.
Jencks and Phillips (1998) performed studies controlling occupation, educational attainment, and socio-economic status, the gap on academic achievement between White and African American students narrowed, but still existent. However, Orr (2003) revisited this White-African American achievement gap debate by including wealth in his analysis which determined its effect on the achievement of African American students. Wealth, in this case was defined by the result of subtracting debts from assets. His conclusion stated, "wealth has a positive effect on achievement, even after family's SES is held constant. Wealth also explains a portion of black-white differences in achievement" (p. 295).
In Jencks and Phillips (1998), the contribution of genetics to academic performance of African American students ranged from minimal to none, because adopted African American children performed comparably with White American students. Researchers warned though that innate intelligence is not measured by IQ tests but rather developed intelligence. Therefore there is no direct approach in measuring significant differences in innate intelligence of African and White American students.
Cheng and Starks (2002) disclosed that African American fathers' had very low influence on the educational expectation of students. The grandparents' role was greater among African American as opposed to White American students. Data gathered could not generate conclusive results because they were "perceived, rather than self-reported, measures" (Cheng & Stark, 2002, p. 311).
The experimental approach to determine the effects of tracking or ability grouping practices of teachers on achievement gap was a less adopted methodology; however, the work of Ferguson (1998) concluded that ability is not race-based but on ability and achievement. The review of Ferguson on a previous work by Haller (1993) revealed an instruction stating that teachers should group students in the coming school year.
First impression would tell that race would be a determinant factor as the low ability students would mostly be African Americans while high ability students would be predominantly White Americans. After subjecting the students to tests which assign them to their ability level, it was noted that the teachers' grouping was fairly accurate. One of Ferguson's recommendations is the undertaking of more studies that determine whether tracking would be for the good or detriment of African American students (Ferguson 1998 as cited in Jencks & Phillips, 1998).
If the teachers were themselves African Americans, African Americans' academic achievement was not boosted. The fact is only poor African American and affluent White American teachers were correlated to marginal positive impacts on test scores which was only observed in mathematics. Initially, Ferguson (1998) as cited in Jencks and Phillips (1998) explained this result by justifying that these teachers "might be the least threatened by black children of low socioeconomic status, and the most inclined to believe that such children can achieve at high levels" (p. 349)
Tyson (2002) who studied 56 middle class African American students concluded that the more negative attitudes students have toward school, the low their academic performance becomes. The results did not agree with Ogbu (1986) who mentioned that African American students were opposed culturally to achievement because of the perception of their peers that they are "acting white" (Tyson 2002). However, the conclusion of Tyson (2002) could not be generalized because of the small sample size. Jencks and Phillips (1998) revealed that the fear of "acting white" could not account for the low scores of African Americans students, but it explained their absence of motivation to cope up.
A small number of studies were conducted to determine the effect of segregation and indicated that desegregation positively impact the narrowing of the achievement gap between African and White American students without any negative effect on White American students (Jencks & Phillips 1998).
Studies on the effect of unequal funding on closing the achievement gap between African and White American students had inconclusive results. "In 42 out of the 49 states studied, school districts with the greatest numbers of poor children have less money to spend per student than districts with the fewest poor children. Nationally, the gap between the quarter of districts with the highest and lowest minority enrollments is $979. Thirty-one states have such gaps" (p. 20) Haycock, Jerald, and Huang (2001) wrote.
Concerns Regarding the Assessment Process
The assessment process in special education is considered to be biased and this is well-documented in minority groups according to Agbenyega and Jiggetts (1999), Arnold and Lassman (2003), and Patton (1998). In the study of Dykes (2008), the participant-special education administrators admitted they worked arduously with their staff in order to develop assessment tools that are culturally sensitive. While the administrators they have assessed their students appropriately, some of them admitted that older students are dismissed rarely in special education and that personnel in charged with assessment administer supplementary tests if the reassessed student will not quality. In addition, the administrators explained that their personnel are apprehensive of dismissing special education students because they fear that the student will either have difficulty in general education classrooms or become a drop out. As quoted by one administrator, "We are not going to dismiss them at seventh grade because they have been in special education forever. We also are not going to reassess a student moving in from another district". Losen (2002) noted that decisions made during the evaluation are subjective most of the time involving cultural bias, teacher perceptions, and school politics.
Importance of Parental Advocacy
According to Bradley et al. (2005), school counselors should increase the breadth of their knowledge of and become more committed in keeping a comprehensive outlook on African American families. Harry (1992) identified two uncorroborated myths regarding African American parents; the notion that education is undervalued by African American parents and African American parents are uninterested about the well-being of their children. Despite the debunking of these myths through empirical studies, still a number of school counselors continue to consider these myths to be truths. Therefore, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the attitudes of school counselors pertaining to beliefs regarding African American families before collaborative and concerted efforts could be implemented. One way to change their attitude is to gain a deeper perspective on the role of an African American parent in helping their children prepare for educational environment. Bradley and Sanders (1999) articulated that "parents have the difficult role of preparing African American children to succeed in a society that has a history of being hostile and racist toward African Americans". Additionally, Lee (2003) noted that school administrators, counselors, and teachers had negative attitudes toward male African American students. Although it is an established fact the African American families have endured years of racial discrimination, their legacy to their families is giving their children love, stability, security (Lee, 2003), and education (Sanders & Bradley, 2002 as cited in Carlson, 2002). Armed with this knowledge, school counselors better understand the dynamics within an African American family dynamics which is important in developing a collaborative association with the parents of African American students.
There still are barriers that hinder African American parents from collaborating with school counselors and these are the mistrust of the parents towards the assessment process in special education and communication gap (Harry, 1992). This lack of involvement among parents from assessment to placement likely increases suspicion and aggravate lack of communication between school counselors and parents of African American students. The breaking of the vicious cycle starting with lack of parental involvement, mistrust, and lack of communication can be accomplished by using the suggestion of Bradley et al. (2005) emphasizing that school counselors should ask the involvement of parents early on during the academic year in delimiting the expectations and defining the goals for male African American student. This suggestion achieves the following: 1) establishment of rapport between school counselors and African American parents, 2) initiating of communication between the school and the parents in a positive light prior to the emergence of problems, 3) clear comprehension and understanding on the expectations set by the school and parents, and 4) increased understanding of students that the relationship between the school counselors and their parents is collaborative. As a result of adopting Bradley and colleagues' suggestion, knowledge of the school counselors regarding African American families was increased, commitment and intentionality in addressing their concerns were strengthened; and parents' recognition that they are partners with the school in the educational endeavors of their children.
School counselors must go beyond the comfort zones and confines of their roles in education and serve as advocates for their students. This is specifically addressed to school counselors who will be liaisons between the school and resources in the community. Several workers have stressed the call for school counselors to be more familiar with available community resources and collaborate with the community members in their advocacy towards male African American students and parents (Bradley, et al., 2005; Harris, 1995; Harvey & Hill, 2004; Mahiri & Conner, 2003; Omizo, Omizo, & Honda, 1997). One illustration is that of Mahiri and Conner (2003) when they observed that the faculty members, school staff, and community leaders jointly worked in developing after-school and extended day programs providing additional cultural and academic activities for male African American students in Westwood Charter School. Though the study did not mention that the collaboration of the school and community reduced the number of referrals for special education, it increased cooperation between the school and the community.
Identified as a viable and important resource in the community, the African American church can potentially aid school counselors in collaborating with the community. The African American church is significant since it has an instrument role in developing African American children socio-culturally, religiously, and spiritually. This according to Bradley et al. (2005) is a solid basis for establishing a working relationship with the school.
In addition, Harris (1995) suggested that the school should contact and coordinate with the ministers in developing and promoting group-oriented services catering to male African American students. Harvey and Hill (2004) explained that one principle being promoted by the African American church is resiliency. Moreover, Zimmerman and Maton (1992) observed that when African American students are involved in church and other activities, they are not at risk for high-risk and deviant behaviors. The mission entrusted to the African American church is to spiritually, religiously, and morally guide African American children and therefore should partner with the school personnel in addressing problems confronting male African American students.
Early Intervention Activities
Algozzine, Christenson and Ysseldyke (1982) noted that from referral to placement has a socio-political content. In this context, the teachers played a crucial role in the overrepresentation of male African American students in special education. Because referrals of teachers for psychological assessment likely result in student placement in special education, Algozinne, Christenson, and Ysseldyke (1982) observed that special education referrals are teacher-driven. In other words, when students were identified to have physical or mental disabilities, they will undergo testing then placed in special education when the teacher has initiated the process by referring a student (Artiles & Trent, 1994). With this social-political context driving the system, the counseling department of the school should acknowledge they have little control over minimizing the overrepresentation of African American students in special education once referrals are made then ultimately considered for placement. Despite this, they should realize that school counselors can still be proactive during the pre-referral phase. Because of the unique position they occupy in the special education system, school counselors should address this disproportionate representation of male African American students by implementing early intervention and prevention activities (Bowen & Glenn, 1998).
As noted by Knotek (2003), services both ancillary and pre-referral can lessen referred African American students to special education. Craig et al. (2000) noted there are pre-referral services that address student profile in terms of strengths, weaknesses, needs, medical history, social and educational issues, linguistic, cultural, and experiential background as well as perspectives of both family and teacher. Particularly, a number of pre-referral and early intervention measures and activities that school counselors can adopt include strategies that are aimed at behavioral management such as individualized behavior contracts and techniques in counseling like choice therapy, solution-focus, and other culturally sensitive positive reinforcement strategies. Omizo and D'Andrea (1995) as cited in Lee (1995) also recommended multicultural classroom guidance activities that promote a positive well-being among African American children. Also, counseling students in small groups or individually can help manage anger and behavioral problems of children (Deck et al. 1999). Other methods used in early intervention include play therapy, cooperative learning experiences, social skills training, relaxation exercises, guided imagery, and role playing (Bowen & Glenn, 1998).
The American School Counselor Association identified things school counselors should take into consideration when implementing PL 94-142. One of which include consultation with appropriate personnel on affective and educational needs of special students (ASCA, 1994). Because there are numerous aspects in consultation, school counselors can execute numerous strategies in addressing the disproportionate representation of male African American students by employing this approach. For example, school counselors can hold the conduct of in-service workshops catering to school personnel and teachers on being more sensitive and responsive to the needs, gaps, and challenges of disabled students (Bowen & Glenn, 1998). With consultation, school counselors can likewise help establish collaborative relationship between the parents and school. Moreover, school counselors can extend help in promoting healthy student-teacher relationships through consultation involving both parties (Bowen & Glenn, 1998).
Among the myriad of factors that contribute to the phenomenon where male African Americans are disproportionately represented in special education include those related to race (Hilliard, 2001), culture and class oppressions, disability (Artiles and Trent, 1994), and stereotyping (Steele, 1997). The long-term results of this phenomenon in the special education system in the US are manifested by its impact in society such as increased rate of dropping out, diminished opportunities in employment, and higher probability of incarceration. Therefore, stakeholders in education should play active roles in addressing the problem thoughtfully and meaningfully- starting with the parents, school, and community.