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Race and Learning Disabilities: Barriers and Ramps to Ensure Robust and Appropriate Teaching and Learning

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

Race and Learning Disabilities: Barriers and Ramps to Ensure Robust and Appropriate Teaching and Learning

Presented by Dr. Temple Lovelace, Founder and Director, Assessment for Good, Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF); Bennison (Bb) Ntsakey, Senior Educational Consultant, Blueprint Collective; and Samantha Schmitt, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Coordinator, Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School, University of Pittsburgh (PA)
Moderated by Barbara Pape, Senior Director, Learner Variability Project, Digital Promise

Sponsored by Digital Promise

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The intersection of race and learning disabilities presents school-imposed barriers and roadblocks for students of color. These roadblocks include misidentification, incorrect placement, and severe and inappropriate discipline measures. In one study, for example, Black students from non-low-income backgrounds had about twice the likelihood of being identified with intellectual disabilities or emotional disturbances compared to White students from non-low-income backgrounds. The NCLD report also cited research that found, “Black students, for example, are three times more likely than White students to be suspended or expelled,” with one study concluding that this disparity is at least partially due to internalized racial stereotypes held by teachers.

In this edWebinar, we learn what the research says about the intersection of disability and race, what schools can do to more appropriately determine a student’s disability given racial and cultural uniqueness, and strategies for individual teachers to keep expectations high and ensure that students receive appropriate supports so they can meet their potential. During this edWebinar, viewers:

  • Develop a better understanding of explicit and implicit racial bias and how that impacts students who have learning disabilities
  • Learn about what the research says about barriers presented to students who are at the intersection of race and learning disabilities
  • Explore strategies to ensure that students of color with learning disabilities are offered a robust education in a supportive environment with the appropriate supports
  • Hear first-hand accounts from researchers and educators in schools

This recorded edWebinar is of interest to K-12 teachers and school and district leaders.


Temple S. LovelaceAbout the Presenters

Temple S. Lovelace, Ph.D. is the founder and director of Assessment for Good. Assessment for Good, an inclusive R&D program at the Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF), grew out of a commitment to transform the role of assessment in the lives of Black and Latinx learners so that it is identity affirming and honors the continuum of their development. Previously, Dr. Temple was an associate professor of special education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2018, she launched eXiLab, a cooperative incubator in the School of Education that tested a set of experimental and non-experimental methods for Inclusive R&D that focuses on advancing equitable learning opportunities accessible to learners across various contexts.

Dr. Temple’s research is on the intersection of disability, race, and gender and the creation of innovative, culturally affirming supports for Black neurodivergent girls. Her work has recently centered on pAIR Assessment, a prototype created during her dissertation research that leverages ecobehavioral assessment and technology to identify and ameliorate instructional and environmental risk factors for culturally diverse learners. With better tools, the overrepresentation of culturally diverse learners with and without disabilities in exclusionary school spaces can be eliminated. Her commitment to this goal is found in the following publications: Community-University Partnerships as Vehicles of Radical Leadership, Service and Activism; Creating a Schoolwide Culture to Support Practitioner Research; Experiences of African American Mothers of Sons with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Lessons for Improving Service Delivery; and Missing from the Narrative: A Seven Decade Scoping Review on the Inclusion of Black Autistic Women and Girls in Autism Research. She received her Ph.D. in special education and behavior analysis from The Ohio State University.


Bennison (Bb) Ntsakey

Bennison (Bb) Ntsakey is a senior educational consultant at the Blueprint Collective, a coalition of equity-driven leaders supporting organizations and communities toward strong, equitable results in teaching, learning, and leader development. Bennison brings 15 years of experience leading, guiding, and advising organizational senior leaders to improve learning opportunities through equity initiatives, highlighted most recently through EquityByDesign, a comprehensive approach of using user-centered, agile school design to coach school teams across the country with a framework for continuous improvement.

Previously, he served as the senior director of academics at Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools and led school turnaround as the principal of Community Charter School of Paterson. Bennison also served as an instructional leader at Uncommon Schools for several years and was the school director and manager of teacher leadership for Teach For America for the three years prior. He began his career in education as a special educator and humanities coach for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He holds a master’s in education (public school building leadership and organization) from Columbia University Teachers College; a master’s in education (education and social change) from the University of Miami Graduate School of Education with clinical educator certification; and a BA in English, philosophy, and African American studies from Syracuse University.

Samantha Utley

Samantha Schmitt is the inaugural coordinator of equity, inclusion, and justice at the Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School, a private K-8 school affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. In this senior-level role, Samantha works with students, faculty, staff, parents, and caregivers in a variety of contexts, including professional development, student admissions, curriculum development, classroom instruction, and more.

A native of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Samantha is the former dean of students at the Duquesne City School District, where she managed student affairs. Prior to that role, she worked at Duquesne schools as a teacher and instructional coach for science, STEM, and technology. “The primary years are the foundation for students,” said Samantha. “Reading, writing, math—if you don’t have those skills down in the first few years, you will struggle down the road. The same could be thought of with equity and inclusion. If we don’t instill that knowledge in our children, then as adults they will have deficit thinking and bias as adults.”


Barbara A. PapeAbout the Moderator

Barbara Pape, senior director for the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise, led a three-year national survey on learner variability and teacher practice, wrote the paper defining learner variability, hosts a monthly webinar series, and co-developed The IEP Project. Previously, she worked in policy analysis and communications for nonprofits and in the U.S. Senate. Barbara has written for numerous publications and was editor of the first electronically delivered education newsletter, the Daily Report Card. Previously, she produced the Teaching & Learning conference for the National Board, worked in the communications office for the AFT during President Al Shanker’s tenure, and headed up government relations for the City Colleges of Chicago. She earned an Ed.M. at Harvard and coursework toward a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. Barbara launched her career as a middle school teacher.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2022
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
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