This book, described by reviewers as "shocking" and "a masterpiece," exposes the tragic tale of the millions of schoolchildren who are never taught basic skills in reading, writing, and math. With heart-wrenching stories of individual children from his own experience as an advocate and ground-breaking policy researcher, Kalman "Buzzy" Hettleman documents what can only be labeled educational abuse. It may be unintentional, but it is gross negligence because we know how to prevent it, yet fail do it.
Many of the victims are "Mislabeled as Disabled." Denied proper instruction, they fall behind in regular general education, overwhelm teachers, and hold back classmates. Out of desperation, school systems unlawfully "dump" such "Mislabeled as Disabled" students in special education, even though they do not have a true medical disability. Yet, unlike students with severe limitations who are "Truly Disabled," the special education they receive is hardly special at all. They fall farther behind and suffer stigma and segregation. Moreover, school systems cover up this educational malpractice with misleading progress reports and data.
The fact that a disproportionate number of "Mislabeled as Disabled" students are from poor and minority families is no excuse. Hettleman not only cites in detail the better instruction that will enable them to succeed; he spells out the kind of legislative and judicial civil right to learn to read that is required for reform.
Hettleman also perceptively reveals how teachers, like children, are victimized by educational abuse. Dedicated frontline teachers are denied the instructional tools-the training, class sizes, and curricula-with which they can get the job done right. He concludes with a call to action by all of us. Parents, educators, policymakers, and entire communities should read this book, become enraged, and then take up the struggle for reform.
"The author lays out a cogent case for making changes to the system [...] Hettleman offers a cleareyed assessment of the political realities reformers face. The concluding chapters deliver useful guidance for parents advocating for their own children and for activists working on broader education reform."
- Kirkus Reviews
"Hettleman, a Baltimore City school board member and national educational reform crusader, lays out the story like a well-structured crime novel [and] provides a road map for fixing a broken system [...] Written with clarity and a sense of urgency, the book is aimed at teachers, administrators, and legislators as well as at parents [...] Mislabeled as Disabled is a bracing call to arms [that challenges] the state of American education."
- Foreword Clarion Reviews
"[Author Hettleman's] tone may ruffle some feathers; he comes out with guns blazing in defense of victimized children. But his solution transcends partisan politics and clearly identifies steps to action in this convincing portrait of educational mismanagement. Lay readers as well as professionals will find his case compelling and enlightening."
- BlueInk Reviews