A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND lawsuit charging that the state of Oregon has failed to provide full school days to students with mental, emotional and behavioral disabilities could create a model for other states to stop the practice of shortening school days.
The class action lawsuit – filed Jan. 22 in U.S. district court by Disability Rights Oregon and other groups – says Oregon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by the “unnecessary segregation” of children with disabilities. The lawsuit alleges that schools in Oregon, mainly in rural areas, send students home on a regular, sometimes daily basis, for all or parts of the school day, citing behavior issues or safety concerns stemming from behavioral, mental and emotional disorders such as autism.
Joel Greenberg, a Disability Rights Oregon attorney, says the practice often makes disabled students feel “that they don’t belong in school.”
Online courses helped kick off a movement promising that your zipcode no longer had to determine the quality of education you received. People in rural Bhutan could take a computer science class from Harvard. Students at a community college could supplement their math class with lectures from MIT. A single mom in middle America could learn to code from Google instructor.
However, as more online learning companies raise their Series D funding rounds, and players from Duolingo to Coursera try to figure out sustainable business models, we’ve reached a juncture where we need to think about the issues of equity that come with chasing paying customers. Unless we carefully examine where we put the paywalls and how we cultivate diverse student bodies in our online learning experiences, we risk transposing the same patterns of inequity that have plagued in-person education into our digital classrooms.