Showing posts with label disabilities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disabilities. Show all posts

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Differences between Johnstown, Westmont, and Richland School Districts in Special Education


The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book on Johnstown by the numbers.
            The Pennsylvania StateData Center issues an annual report on each school district in the state onspecial education data. For this book I will take a look at the Greater Johnstown, Westmont, and Richland School Districts for the ’07-’08 and ‘18-’19 school years. This is to show changes in enrollment and the special education population over the last 11 years. The state rates are provided for comparison.
            The table below shows that enrollment in each school district and in the state overall has decreased. Statewide it has decreased 4.3% while in Greater Johnstown it has decreased 4.7%, in Richland it has decreased 7.8% and in Westmont it has decreased 14.5% over this time period. The percentage of enrollment in special Ed increased from 15% to 17.3% statewide. In Greater Johnstown it decreased from 19% to 17.9% over the same period while in Richland it increased from 10.1% to 11% and in Westmont it increased from 9.4% to 14.1%.  The Greater Johnstown School District does have a larger burden than the state as a whole or the more affluent Richland and Westmont School Districts.
The starkest change in the enrollment for Greater Johnstown school district is in its ethnic makeup. In the ’07-’08 school year the district was 67% Caucasian.  Ten years later it was 45% a 22% decrease.  The African American percentage increased from 29.8% to 34% over this period while Hispanic enrollment increased from 1.8% to 4.2% over this period.  The remainder of the student body or 16% is identified as multiracial in 2018. This category was not reported in ’07-’08.
For special education, African Americans were 27.1% of the total in ’07-’08 and 33% in ‘18-’19 which is 1% lower than their representation in the student body. Caucasians were 70.8% of special educations students in ’07-’08  which was 3.8% higher than it was in the student body and in ‘18-’19 they were 49% of the total which is 4% higher than their representation in the student body. 13.8% of special ed students were multiracial in ‘18-’19 which is 2.2% lower than their percentage in the student body.
In Richland the % Caucasian decreased from 96.1% in ’07-’08 to 90.7% in ‘18-’19. The % African American increased from 1% to 2.5% and the % Hispanic increased from 1% to 1.9% over this period. 2.3% of those enrolled identified as multiracial in ‘18-’19.  95% of those in special education were Caucasian in ’07-’08 while 89.2% were in ‘18-’19.  African Americans were less than 1% of special education students there in ’07-’08 while in ‘18-’19 there were 6.6% of the total which is 4.1% higher than their percentage in the student body.
In Westmont the % Caucasian in the student body decreased from 96.6% in ’07-’08 to 87.1% in ‘18-’19.  The % of African Americans increased from 1.2% to 2.1% and the % of Hispanics increased from 0.7% to 2.9% over this period.  The percentage of those identified as multiracial were 6.5% in ‘18-’19.  The special education students were 96.3% Caucasian in ’07-’08 and 79.7% in ‘18-’19 for an underrepresentation of 0.3% and 7.4% respectively.  For African Americans it was not reported in ’07-’08 or in ‘18-’19. For Hispanics it was not reported in ’07-’08 but in ‘18-’19 it was 5.3% which is 2.4% higher than the student body.  Multiracial special ed students were 8.7% of the total which is 2.2% higher than the student body in the year ‘18-’19.
Looking at the changes in the types of disabilities served, statewide there was an decrease in the percentage of students with intellectual (-2.2%) and learning (-11.5%) disabilities, with speech and/or language impairments (-1.8) and emotional disturbances (-0.9%).  There was a 6.7% increase in the percentage of special ed students with autism.

  • ·         In Greater Johnstown there were decreases in intellectual (-0.3) and learning (-14.5%) disabilities and in speech and/or language impairments (-5.4%).  There were increases in autism (10.3%) and emotional disturbance (2.3%). 
  • ·         At Richland there were likewise decreases in the percentage of intellectual (-3.7%) and learning (-15%) disabilities and in speech and/or language impairments (-7.7%).  There were increases in autism (15.7%) and emotional disturbance (8.5%).
  • ·         At Westmont there was a decrease in the percentage of learning disabilities (-14.8%) and speech and/or language impairments (-4.4%) and an increase in the percentage of students with intellectual disabilities (1.2%), autism (18.4%), and emotional disturbance (3.6%).
This could mostly be a reflection of the fact that autism is diagnosed now a lot more often than it has been in the past.


Greater Johnstown
Richland
Westmont
State
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
% special Ed
19%
17.90%
10.10%
11.00%
9.40%
14.10%
15.2%
17.30%
Total Enrollment
3,027
2,886
1,633
1,506
1,720
1,470
1,801,760
1,723,405
% Caucasian (total)
67.00%
45%
96.10%
90.70%
96.60%
87.10%
73.9%
64.6%
% Caucasian (Sp. ed.)
70.80%
49%
95.20%
89.20%
96.30%
79.70%
NR
63.1%
% African American (total)
29.80%
34%
1.00%
2.50%
1.20%
2.10%
16.0%
14.8%
% African American (Sp. ed.)
27.10%
33%
NR
6.60%
NR
NR
NR
17.8%
Specific Disabilities (% of all special ed)








Intellectual Disability
7.10%
6.80%
12.70%
9.00%
7.50%
8.70%
8.50%
6.30%
Autism
NR
10.30%
NR
15.70%
NR
18.40%
4.60%
11.30%
Learning Disability
49.20%
34.70%
49.70%
39.80%
53.40%
38.60%
52.10%
40.60%
Emotional Disturbance
11.50%
13.80%
0.00%
8.50%
7.50%
11.10%
9.40%
8.50%
Speech or Language Impairment
18.40%
13.00%
14.50%
7.80%
15.50%
10.10%
16.10%
14.30%

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Agony of Not Knowing Why



I thought I would take a break from politics and healthcare to discuss this 29 minute documentary about these two parents with two special needs kids for whom doctors can find no definitive cause for their disability.  The documentary was moving to watch.  

While I was watching I was wishing that I had some special insight that the doctors might have missed.  The parents said that its hard hearing other people say "you were given this because you can handle it."  I was wondering how they respond to parents of other special needs kids who have similar struggles but they know more about their children's conditions because they have a diagnosis.  They know what to expect and they may know what caused their condition.  

I don't have any answers for them and it's best not to judge when you don't know.


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Get the Lead Out

A new survey by the Centers for disease control or CDC suggests that about 500,000 children in the US have low blood lead levels (defined as 5 micrograms per deciliter) from 2007-2010.  This shows an 8.6% decrease compared to the last survey period in 1999-2002.  The graph at the left shows that there are higher percentages among african americans, the poor, and those who live in housing built before 1950.  

Many buildings built before 1950 still have paint that is lead based and have plumbing with lead pipes.  These paints were phased out but it is very expensive to replace and it is better in the long run just to build new housing to replace the paint.  The paint can flake off and when ingested by children can cause intellectual or developmental disabilities (the now politically correct term for mental retardation) and or learning disabilities.  

In the lab (on animal studies) and in correlational studies no dosage level of lead has been found that is completely benign on the brain.  It has a negative effect on the blood brain barrier which protects it from other toxins and has many other negative effects on intelligence test scores and brain function.  

The negative effects of lead exposure were recognized by Greek physicians as early as the 2nd century BC.  There is a theory that it contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire though that is controversial.   It was used heavily in the industrial revolution and in gasoline in the 1920s.  A way to test the theory would be to measure residual lead levels in the remains (teeth, bones, and if lucky hair) of the Roman citizens relative to those in the surrounding Barbarian tribes which sacked the empire from AD 410-476.  If the levels were higher in the Roman citizens it would support the theory.



It was phased out starting in 1978 in the US but the effects are still felt with leaded gasoline getting into the atmosphere through auto emissions, then into rain water, and finally the soil where it can remain for many years.  Other countries do not have as strict regulation on lead as the US does now.  

**Update** 

 
Episode 7 of Cosmos is devoted to lead poisoning and it's history with scientist Clair Patterson being voiced by Richard Gere. I can only embed the whole episode here while Hulu makes it available.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Using the Disabled as a Prop for a Larger Racist Global Agenda


Rick Santorum, Glenn Beck and the right made an effort to show that they can still flex their muscle now that the election is over by campaigning against the UN treaty on the Disabled which failed yesterday in the US Senate to make the needed two thirds majority of 67 by 6 votes.  The treaty in the US is mostly symbolic because the Americans with Disabilities Act covers most of this territory but it is significant in much of the world.  This rejection also does not affect the treaty in other countries. 

The greater significance of this action is to still show the same contempt for international cooperation that impedes US 'sovereignty.'  This is a token victory which may be reversed after the new Congress is sworn in in January.  The rhetoric above resembles that of the southern states to protect their sovereignty in the Civil War.  

An Anti-War March in 2005
Another Anti-War Marcher in 2005

The Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq without UN authorization is definitely a more extreme case of the right showing contempt for global democracy than this one.  Remember "freedom fries" replacing French Fries in Congressional Cafeteria?  That one resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and created possibly millions more disabled Americans and Iraqis over weapons of mass destruction that did not exist at the time of the invasion.  Now we're hearing the same rhetoric now over Syria and Iran.  The average Iraqi is a better judge of how democratic their country is now than any pundit on Fox News.

Santorum again uses his youngest child Bella in his arguments against the current treaty just as he did against the health care law while many lower status children and adults with disabilities need these types of protections.  Santorum and Beck even call the UN disabled treaty 'fascistic.'  Doesn't anyone see that this is all really a ploy to subvert real democratic processes among nations?  The scale may differ but the intent is the same.  Many other global issues such as terrorism and climate change require global cooperation just as the states have to cooperate to solve national problems. This contempt for the UN is really thinly veiled racism.


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