Thursday, September 23, 2010

Academic Capital Rehabilitation Act of 2012

What if we began to treat every child like a special needs child?  According to the World Health Organization:
Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.
Public schools recognize students with certain special needs as having disabilities, and are mandated by law to provide them with accommodations.  But this is limited to a specific range of disabilities that are specifically classified as such.  Section 504 of the landmark Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any federally funded program.  The idea behind this is of course that students with disabilities must be given special help in order to receive an equal education.

So how is this different than disadvantaged students who lack adequate levels of human and social capital (combined, they can be thought of as Academic Capital) required to be successful?  We have the tools to target, assess and diagnose these populations.  We know that they face severe deficits - certainly by Kindergarten age, but in reality much earlier in life.  And their level of future success is highly predictable based on a variety of risk-factors.  We know the interventions we can use to accommodate their special needs.

Maybe we need a new law.  How about the Academic Capital Rehabilitation Act of 2012?


  1. I'm a liberal an' all and the idea is an interesting thought experiment but I fear it leads us down the road to THX1138

    full movie

  2. Hah! Haven't seen that movie in years. Watching it, an irony occurred to me. That type of 1984/Huxley/authoritarian utopia in which man is ensnared by his own quest for perfection, yet severely limits the potential of the world - if one accepts the deterministic logic, we're already there in many ways. The reality is that for too many of us, the world is already quite dystopian; they are extremely limited by their lack of self-efficacy.

    I imagine there must be some reasonable middle ground between food units and shaved heads, and special services targeted at communities of children who lack adequate developmental resources!