School Board Liability: The Dangers of Labeling Students Part 2
In Part 1 of this blog post, we looked at some of the dangers of prematurely labeling students, citing an example of a boy who was labeled as autistic by both educators and medical providers, only to find out he was actually a genius with an IQ comparable to Albert Einstein. As we mentioned previously, this is an extreme example, however it does shed light on the dangers of labeling students. It is an issue that all educators should be aware of, especially when it comes to school board liability.
One disadvantage, or danger, we mentioned was the fact that teachers may overreact to receiving a student who has been labeled as learning-disabled, and treat them differently due to this. So what are some other dangers? Education.com has provided a list of perceived disadvantages, which are summarized below:
- Labels can encourage the idea that students with mild disabilities are qualitatively different form other children, which is simply untrue. Students with mild disabilities go through the same developmental stages as their peers, although sometimes at a slower rate.
- Even if a child is correctly labeled with a learning disability, they should not be defined by it. Every child is different, and a learning disability may affect one child in an entirely different way than it does another. When a student is placed in a learning disability category, they are in danger of being stereotyped. Educators may assume the child “can’t” learn a certain concept even though they might be capable if taught in the right way.
- Students can’t receive special education services until they are labeled, and in many cases the intervention comes too late. The need to label students before help arrives undermines a preventive approach to mild learning problems.
- Labels can often put “blame” for a student’s learning problems on the parent’s shoulders. Many times this is unjustified because students may be mislabeled or teachers might not fully understand the many different causes of mild disabilities.
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