Male Students Referred to Special Education More Than Female Students

by Greg Alexander

[MenTeach: We like to republish letters occassionally.]

My name is Gregory Alexander. I am a doctoral student at the University of Laverne in southern california. I am doing my dissertation on recruitment & retention strategies of men in special education, and its long term effects on special education.

I am a special education high school teacher and an adjunct professor at California State University San Bernardino and National University in the Special Education department.

If there is any information you can give me in regard to my study it will greatly be appreciated. I plan to do a Delphi Study or Interviews to obtain answers to my questions. I believe if we can find strategies to combat sexual accusations, low pay, low prestige, and recruit more men in education in particularly in the elementary level and special education, American education may not be in the predicament it is in today.

Male students make up approximately 70% of the two largest categories in special ed. Specific
Learning disability & Emotional Disturbance, when there are little male role models in special education classrooms. California has 28,000 special ed teachers of which maybe 4,000 are men which is significantly low. I am still searching for a more accurate figure on men in special ed. the state sites don't give that information directly.

I believe if there were a more proportionate balance of men teachers at the elementary level there would be less referrals of males into special education. Particular with poor white males, latinos, and specifically african american males where there is a known problem of overrepresentation in special education. Looking at this I find that primarily middle class white women are referring these elementary male students to special ed. at an alarming rate.

By the time they get to me in high school they have been labeled and "hobbled", therefore behind academically in almost all areas.

By the 10th or 11th grade the drop out rate shoots up tremendously in which we know contributes positively to crime.

In Southern california the recidivism rate of men with disabilities is at approximately 70%.

Studies have shown since 1976 that teachers primarily female teachers are more likely to refer males to special ed. than females.

This is a problem that has not been dealt with and Special ed. is going OUT OF CONTROL!!

No one knows exactly what to do.

Greg Alexander

[MenTeach: This is one response.]

I was just talking to a friend of mine on the phone tonight about the male presence in the special education classroom.

I am currently considering becoming a sp ed teacher. I am 54 years old, retired Air Force and have a heart for children.

I agree that women being the majority in classrooms don't know how to handle young men as well as men teachers would. You said that you are having trouble getting figures on the proportion of males to female teachers that are currently teaching?

Tonight a principal friend said that there is a high turnover rate due to the paperwork and overall stress in trying to get the students up to speed. How can the gov't or BOE expect an LD or BD young person turn around in a specified # of yrs? Every child is different and learning rates and emotional responses vary. The voice a man in the ears of a young man that never has one at home, with any consistency at least, hungers for the sound of the male.

[MenTeach: This is another response.]

I am a Special Education teacher in grades K-12. I have taught emotional handicapped students in a variety of venues,from residential homes to public schools. I have found that males are more extraverts and they ehibit behaviors that are easly definable (ex:fighting, kicking..) and more difficult for teachers to control. On the other hand,the females behavior is more introverted (ex: quiet, withdrawn, cry etc) less likly to disrupt the classroom. That is one of the reasons that there is more males qualified and put in special education.

boys in (and out!) of the classroom

Kitt Cox
Gloucester, Massachusetts, US

Another related area of concern is the rate of preschool expulsions of male children, particularly those black and latino kids. I suspect that if we had better gender diversity in these classrooms, we might have much greater success in educating these children. Somebody should write a grant to study this.
Please let us know how your research progresses.