Tag Archives: Pennsylvania State University

Penn State University study: Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans’ burning than climate change

26 May

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wrote about the benefits of prescribed burning:

Definition Prescribed burning is the deliberate use of fire to help manage a forest. It is a complex management tool and should be used by only those who are trained and experienced in its use.

Benefits Hazard Reduction Prescribed burning helps to eliminate fuels such as pine needles, hardwood leaves, fallen branches, and herbaceous vegetation that accumulate on the forest floor. These fuels increase the chance of destruction of young stands if a wildfire erupts.

Control of Understory Vegetation Prescribed burning helps control low-quality hardwoods and shrubs. Understory vegetation competes with pines for moisture and nutrients, and may interfere with regeneration….

Definition Prescribed burning is the deliberate use of fire to help manage a forest. It is a complex management tool and should be used by only those who are trained and experienced in its use.

Benefits Hazard Reduction Prescribed burning helps to eliminate fuels such as pine needles, hardwood leaves, fallen branches, and herbaceous vegetation that accumulate on the forest floor. These fuels increase the chance of destruction of young stands if a wildfire erupts.

Control of Understory Vegetation Prescribed burning helps control low-quality hardwoods and shrubs. Understory vegetation competes with pines for moisture and nutrients, and may interfere with regeneration. https://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/AL/338_js_PrescribedBurning.pdf

Native Americans used prescribed burning as a forest management practice. See, Indian Use of Fire in Early Oregon https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/anthropogenic_fire/#.XOte93dFzIU

Science Daily reported in Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans’ burning than climate change:

Native Americans’ use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a Penn State researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change.
“I believe Native Americans were excellent vegetation managers and we can learn a lot from them about how to best manage forests of the U.S.,” said Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Native Americans knew that to regenerate plant species that they wanted for food, and to feed game animals they relied on, they needed to burn the forest understory regularly.”
Over the last 2,000 years at least, according to Abrams — who for three decades has been studying past and present qualities of eastern U.S. forests — frequent and widespread human-caused fire resulted in the predominance of fire-adapted tree species. And in the time since burning has been curtailed, forests are changing, with species such as oak, hickory and pine losing ground.
“The debate about whether forest composition has been largely determined by land use or climate continues, but a new study strongly suggests anthropogenic fire has been the major driver of forest change in the East,” said Abrams. “That is important to know because climate change is taking on an ever larger proportion of scientific endeavor.”
But this phenomenon does not apply to other regions, Abrams noted. In the western U.S., for example, climate change has been much more pronounced than in the East. That region has received much more warming and much more drought, he explained.
“Here in the East, we have had a slight increase in precipitation that has ameliorated the warming,” said Abrams.
To learn the drivers of forest change, researchers used a novel approach, analyzing both pollen and charcoal fossil records along with tree-census studies to compare historic and modern tree composition in the forests of eastern North America. They looked at seven forest types in the north and central regions of the eastern United States. Those forest types encompass two distinct floristic zones — conifer-northern hardwood and sub-boreal to the north, and oak-pine to the south.
The researchers found that in the northernmost forests, present-day pollen and tree-survey data revealed significant declines in beech, pine, hemlock and larches, and increases in maple, poplar, ash, oak and fir. In forests to the south, both witness tree and pollen records pointed to historic oak and pine domination, with declines in oak and chestnut and increases in maple and birch, based on present-day data.
“Modern forests are dominated by tree species that are increasingly cool-adapted, shade-tolerant, drought-intolerant pyrophobes — trees that are reduced when exposed to repeated forest burning,” Abrams said. “Species such as oak are largely promoted by low-to moderate-level forest fires. Furthermore, this change in forest composition is making eastern forests more vulnerable to future fire and drought.”
Researchers also included human population data for the region, going back 2,000 years, to bolster their findings, which recently were published in the Annals of Forest Science. After hundreds of years of fairly stable levels of fire caused by relatively low numbers of Native Americans in the region, they report, the most significant escalation in burning followed the dramatic increase in human population associated with European settlement prior to the early 20th century. Moreover, it appears that low numbers of Native Americans were capable of burning large areas of the eastern U.S. and did so repeatedly.
After 1940, they found, fire suppression was an ecologically transformative event in all forests…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190521162443.htm

Citation:

Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans’ burning than climate change
Date: May 21, 2019
Source: Penn State
Summary:
Native Americans’ use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change.

Journal Reference:
Marc D. Abrams, Gregory J. Nowacki. Global change impacts on forest and fire dynamics using paleoecology and tree census data for eastern North America. Annals of Forest Science, 2019; 76 (1) DOI: 10.1007/s13595-018-0790-y

Here is the press release from Penn State:

Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans’ burning than climate change

Jeff Mulhollem

May 21, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Native Americans’ use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a Penn State researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change.
“I believe Native Americans were excellent vegetation managers and we can learn a lot from them about how to best manage forests of the U.S.,” said Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Native Americans knew that to regenerate plant species that they wanted for food, and to feed game animals they relied on, they needed to burn the forest understory regularly.”
Over the last 2,000 years at least, according to Abrams — who for three decades has been studying past and present qualities of eastern U.S. forests — frequent and widespread human-caused fire resulted in the predominance of fire-adapted tree species. And in the time since burning has been curtailed, forests are changing, with species such as oak, hickory and pine losing ground.
“The debate about whether forest composition has been largely determined by land use or climate continues, but a new study strongly suggests anthropogenic fire has been the major driver of forest change in the East,” said Abrams. “That is important to know because climate change is taking on an ever larger proportion of scientific endeavor.”
But this phenomenon does not apply to other regions, Abrams noted. In the western U.S., for example, climate change has been much more pronounced than in the East. That region has received much more warming and much more drought, he explained.
“Here in the East, we have had a slight increase in precipitation that has ameliorated the warming,” said Abrams.
To learn the drivers of forest change, researchers used a novel approach, analyzing both pollen and charcoal fossil records along with tree-census studies to compare historic and modern tree composition in the forests of eastern North America. They looked at seven forest types in the north and central regions of the eastern United States. Those forest types encompass two distinct floristic zones — conifer-northern hardwood and sub-boreal to the north, and oak-pine to the south.
The researchers found that in the northernmost forests, present-day pollen and tree-survey data revealed significant declines in beech, pine, hemlock and larches, and increases in maple, poplar, ash, oak and fir. In forests to the south, both witness tree and pollen records pointed to historic oak and pine domination, with declines in oak and chestnut and increases in maple and birch, based on present-day data.
“Modern forests are dominated by tree species that are increasingly cool-adapted, shade-tolerant, drought-intolerant pyrophobes — trees that are reduced when exposed to repeated forest burning,” Abrams said. “Species such as oak are largely promoted by low-to moderate-level forest fires. Furthermore, this change in forest composition is making eastern forests more vulnerable to future fire and drought.”
Researchers also included human population data for the region, going back 2,000 years, to bolster their findings, which recently were published in the Annals of Forest Science. After hundreds of years of fairly stable levels of fire caused by relatively low numbers of Native Americans in the region, they report, the most significant escalation in burning followed the dramatic increase in human population associated with European settlement prior to the early 20th century. Moreover, it appears that low numbers of Native Americans were capable of burning large areas of the eastern U.S. and did so repeatedly.
After 1940, they found, fire suppression was an ecologically transformative event in all forests.
“Our analysis identifies multiple instances in which fire and vegetation changes were likely driven by shifts in human population and land use beyond those expected from climate alone,” Abrams said. “After Smokey Bear came on the scene, fire was mostly shut down throughout the U.S. and we have been paying a big price for that in terms of forest change. We went from a moderate amount of fire to too much fire to near zero fire — and we need to get back to that middle ground in terms of our vegetation management.”
Also involved in the research was Gregory J. Nowacki, with the Eastern Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
The Agricultural Experiment Station of Penn State funded this research.
(MEDIA CONTACTS)
Jeff Mulhollem
jjm29@psu.edu
Work Phone:
814 863-2719
A’ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
Work Phone:
814-865-9481
Last Updated May 21, 2019

The Royal Parks of the United Kingdom summarized the benefits of urban trees. The Royal Parks wrote in Why are trees so important?

Trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.
Not only are trees essential for life, but as the longest living species on earth, they give us a link between the past, present and future.
It’s critical that woodlands, rainforests and trees in urban settings, such as parks, are preserved and sustainably managed across the world….
Trees benefit health
The canopies of trees act as a physical filter, trapping dust and absorbing pollutants from the air. Each individual tree removes up to 1.7 kilos every year. They also provide shade from solar radiation and reduce noise….
Trees benefit the environment
Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and the carbon that they store in their wood helps slow the rate of global warming.
They reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It’s estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°C.
Trees also help prevent flooding and soil erosion, absorbing thousands of litres of stormwater.
Trees boost wildlife
Trees host complex microhabitats. When young, they offer habitation and food to amazing communities of birds, insects, lichen and fungi. When ancient, their trunks also provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, woodboring beetles, tawny owls and woodpeckers.
One mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species. Richmond Park is full of such trees, which is one of the reasons it has been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Trees strengthen communities
Trees strengthen the distinctive character of a place and encourage local pride. Urban woodland can be used as an educational resource and to bring groups together for activities like walking and bird-watching. Trees are also invaluable for children to play in and discover their sense of adventure.
Trees grow the economy
People are attracted to live, work and invest in green surroundings. Research shows that average house prices are 5-18% higher when properties are close to mature trees. Companies benefit from a healthier, happier workforce if there are parks and trees nearby.
Trees protect the future
Soon, for the first time in history, the number of people with homes in cities will outstrip those living in the countryside. Parks and trees will become an even more vital component of urban life. We must respect them and protect them for the future…. https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park/things-to-see-and-do/gardens-and-landscapes/tree-map/why-trees-are-importantcarbon,

See, Envisioning a Great Green City: Nature needs cities. Cities need nature. https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/envisioning-a-great-green-city/

Resources:

Urban Forestry & Energy Conservation Bibliography https://articles.extension.org/pages/71120/urban-forestry-energy-conservation-bibliography

Urban Forestry Bibliography Created by the Forest Service … https://www.milliontreesnyc.org/downloads/pdf/urban_tree_bib.pdf

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Penn State study: Double standard in early sexual relationships

6 Sep

Maybe, because some parents may not know what is age appropriate for their attire, they haven’t got a clue about what is appropriate for children. There is nothing sadder than a 40 something, 50 something trying to look like they are twenty. What wasn’t sagging when you are 20, is more than likely than not, sagging now.

Kristen Russell Dobson, the managing editor of Parent Map, has a great article in Parent Map. In Are Girls Acting Sexy Too Young? https://www.parentmap.com/article/are-girls-acting-sexy-too-young Dobson says:

A 2003 analysis of TV sitcoms found gender harassment in nearly every episode. Most common: jokes about women’s sexuality or women’s bodies, and comments that characterized women as sex objects. And according to the 2007 Report of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, “Massive exposure to media among youth creates the potential for massive exposure to portrayals that sexualize women and girls and teach girls that women are sexual objects.”

Those messages can be harmful to kids because they make sex seem common — even normal — among younger and younger kids. In So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, co-authors Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., write that “sex in commercial culture has far more to do with trivializing and objectifying sex than with promoting it, more to do with consuming than with connecting. The problem is not that sex as portrayed in the media is sinful, but that it is synthetic and cynical.” http://www.parentmap.com/article/are-girls-acting-sexy-too-young

The culture seems to be sexualizing children at an ever younger age and it becomes more difficult for parents and guardians to allow children to just remain, well children, for a bit longer. Still, parents and guardians must do their part to make sure children are in safe and secure environments. A pole dancing fourth grader is simply unacceptable.

Science Daily reported in Unlike boys, girls lose friends for having sex, gain friends for making out:

Early adolescent girls lose friends for having sex and gain friends for “making out,” while their male peers lose friends for “making out” and gain friends for having sex, finds a new study that will be presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

“In our sample of early adolescents, girls’ friendship networks shrink significantly after they have sex, whereas boys’ friendship networks expand significantly,” said Derek A. Kreager, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Pennsylvania State University. “But what really surprised us was that ‘making out’ showed a pattern consistent with a strong reverse sexual double standard, such that girls who ‘make out’ without having sex see significant increases in friendships, and boys who engage in the same behavior see significant decreases in friendships.”

The study relies on data from the PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience (PROSPER) longitudinal study, which tracked two cohorts of youth from 28 rural communities in Iowa and Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2007 when they were in sixth to ninth grade and 11 to 16-years-old. Students were surveyed in five waves: in the Fall of sixth grade and in the Spring of sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. Kreager’s study focuses on 921 students in the second PROSPER cohort who completed in-home surveys that included measures of sexual behavior.

As part of the PROSPER study, students were asked to nominate their best or closest friends in the same grade. In order to identify changes in peer acceptance, Kreager and his colleagues considered how many friendship nominations participants received in each wave.

According to Kreager, in waves where they reported having sex, on average, girls experienced a 45 percent decrease in peer acceptance and boys experienced an 88 percent increase. On the other hand, in waves where they reported “making out” without having sex, on average, girls experienced a 25 percent increase in peer acceptance, while boys experienced a 29 percent decrease in peer acceptance.

“Our results are consistent with traditional gender scripts,” said Kreager. “Men and boys are expected to act on innate or strong sex drives to initiate heterosexual contacts for the purpose of sex rather than romance and pursue multiple sexual partnerships. In contrast, women and girls are expected to desire romance over sex, value monogamy, and ‘gatekeep’ male sexual advances within committed relationships. A sexual double standard then arises because women and girls who violate traditional sexual scripts and have casual and/or multiple sexual partnerships are socially stigmatized, whereas men and boys performing similar behaviors are rewarded for achieving masculine ideals.”

Kreager found that girls, who defy traditional gender scripts by having sex, lose both male and female friendships. In contrast, boys who defy gender scripts by “making out” without having sex mainly lose male friends.
“This pattern suggests that other boys are the peers that police social norms when it comes to masculinity, whereas girls receive strong messages about gender-appropriate sexual behavior from boys and girls,” Kreager explained. “It is not surprising that girls do not punish boys for ‘making out,’ as this behavior is rewarding for girls both socially and physically. However, there is somewhat of a paradox for boys stigmatizing girls who have sex because these boys are punishing girls for behavior that benefits boys both socially and sexually. We believe one reason for this is that only a small minority of boys have such sexual access, so those who do not have sex negatively define the girls who are having sex.”

While recent research that shows men and women are held to different standards of sexual conduct largely focuses on college “hook-up culture,” by studying early adolescents, Kreager was able to show that sexual double standards also affect youth who have only just reached sexual maturity…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150824064731.htm

Citation:

• Social Psychology Quarterly
• Vol. 72, No. 2, Jun., 2009
• The Sexual Double St…

The Sexual Double Standard and Adolescent Peer Acceptance

Derek A. Kreager and Jeremy Staff

Social Psychology Quarterly

Vol. 72, No. 2 (Jun., 2009), pp. 143-164

Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25593915
Page Count: 22

Abstract

The belief that women and men are held to different standards of sexual conduct is pervasive in contemporary American society. According to the sexual double standard, boys and men are rewarded and praised for heterosexual sexual contacts, whereas girls and women are derogated and stigmatized for similar behaviors. Although widely held by the general public, research findings on the sexual double standard remain equivocal, with qualitative studies and early attitudinal surveys generally finding evidence of the double standard and more recent experimental vignette designs often failing to find similar results. In this study, we extend prior research by directly measuring the social status of sexually permissive youth. We use data collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to relate adolescents’ self-reported numbers of sexual partners to a network measure of peer acceptance. Results suggest that the association between lifetime sexual partnerships and peer status varies significantly by gender, such that greater numbers of sexual partners are positively correlated with boys’ peer acceptance, but negatively correlated with girls’ peer acceptance. Moreover, the relationship between boys’ sexual behaviors and peer acceptance is moderated by socioeconomic origins; sexually permissive boys from disadvantaged backgrounds are predicted to have more friendships than permissive boys from more advantaged backgrounds. Our results thus support the existence of an adolescent sexual double standard and suggest that sexual norms vary by both gender and socioeconomic origins. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25593915?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Here is the press release from the American Sociological Association:

Public Release: 24-Aug-2015 Unlike boys, girls lose friends for having sex, gain friends for making out
American Sociological Association

CHICAGO — Early adolescent girls lose friends for having sex and gain friends for “making out,” while their male peers lose friends for “making out” and gain friends for having sex, finds a new study that will be presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

“In our sample of early adolescents, girls’ friendship networks shrink significantly after they have sex, whereas boys’ friendship networks expand significantly,” said Derek A. Kreager, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Pennsylvania State University. “But what really surprised us was that ‘making out’ showed a pattern consistent with a strong reverse sexual double standard, such that girls who ‘make out’ without having sex see significant increases in friendships, and boys who engage in the same behavior see significant decreases in friendships.”

The study relies on data from the PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience (PROSPER) longitudinal study, which tracked two cohorts of youth from 28 rural communities in Iowa and Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2007 when they were in sixth to ninth grade and 11 to 16-years-old. Students were surveyed in five waves: in the Fall of sixth grade and in the Spring of sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. Kreager’s study focuses on 921 students in the second PROSPER cohort who completed in-home surveys that included measures of sexual behavior.

As part of the PROSPER study, students were asked to nominate their best or closest friends in the same grade. In order to identify changes in peer acceptance, Kreager and his colleagues considered how many friendship nominations participants received in each wave.

According to Kreager, in waves where they reported having sex, on average, girls experienced a 45 percent decrease in peer acceptance and boys experienced an 88 percent increase. On the other hand, in waves where they reported “making out” without having sex, on average, girls experienced a 25 percent increase in peer acceptance, while boys experienced a 29 percent decrease in peer acceptance.

“Our results are consistent with traditional gender scripts,” said Kreager. “Men and boys are expected to act on innate or strong sex drives to initiate heterosexual contacts for the purpose of sex rather than romance and pursue multiple sexual partnerships. In contrast, women and girls are expected to desire romance over sex, value monogamy, and ‘gatekeep’ male sexual advances within committed relationships. A sexual double standard then arises because women and girls who violate traditional sexual scripts and have casual and/or multiple sexual partnerships are socially stigmatized, whereas men and boys performing similar behaviors are rewarded for achieving masculine ideals.”

Kreager found that girls, who defy traditional gender scripts by having sex, lose both male and female friendships. In contrast, boys who defy gender scripts by “making out” without having sex mainly lose male friends.
“This pattern suggests that other boys are the peers that police social norms when it comes to masculinity, whereas girls receive strong messages about gender-appropriate sexual behavior from boys and girls,” Kreager explained. “It is not surprising that girls do not punish boys for ‘making out,’ as this behavior is rewarding for girls both socially and physically. However, there is somewhat of a paradox for boys stigmatizing girls who have sex because these boys are punishing girls for behavior that benefits boys both socially and sexually. We believe one reason for this is that only a small minority of boys have such sexual access, so those who do not have sex negatively define the girls who are having sex.”

While recent research that shows men and women are held to different standards of sexual conduct largely focuses on college “hook-up culture,” by studying early adolescents, Kreager was able to show that sexual double standards also affect youth who have only just reached sexual maturity.
“During early adolescence, peer evaluations of initial sexual behaviors and virginity loss are likely to have large and lasting impacts on later sexual adjustment,” Kreager noted.
###

Study co-authors include Jeremy Staff, an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Pennsylvania State University; Robin Gauthier, a post-doctoral fellow at REACH of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Eva S. Lefkowitz, a professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University; and Mark E. Feinberg, a research professor of health and human development at Pennsylvania State University.
About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, “The Double Standard at Sexual Debut: Gender, Sexual Behavior and Early Adolescent Peer Acceptance,” will be presented on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 2:30 p.m. CDT in Chicago at the American Sociological Association’s 110th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for assistance reaching the study’s author(s); or for more information on other ASA presentations, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler, ASA Media Relations Manager, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 22-25), ASA Public Information Office staff can be reached in the on-site press office, located in the Hilton Chicago’s Boulevard Room B, at (312) 294-6616 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer reviewed journals.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-08/asa-ubg081815.php

This society is setting up women and girls to make some personally destructive choices which have nothing to do with a liberating and healthy sexuality. Much of the culture is simply aimed at demeaning and trivializing women. Children of both sexes need to be urged toward education, training, and life experiences which grow them as responsible and caring people. They should be urged to make choices which benefit them and the society in which they live. Unfortunately, there are some who enter the world of whoredom because they are forced. There is a lot of information about human trafficking http://www.euronews.com/2010/07/02/un-targets-human-trafficking-for-prostitution/ No one in their right mind would honestly advocate that someone they care about was “in the life” or “on the game.” But if young women are going to voluntarily take the road of whoredom, then you need to sell yourselves for Goldman Sachs type $$$$$$$$$$. That is what Miley, Britney, Janet and the other pop tarts have done. Short of that, you might as well be walking the streets looking for a really nice car that isn’t leased so that you can become the next “Pretty Woman.”

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Penn State study: Ethnic students and students of color underrepresented in special education classes

24 Jun

The University of Michigan Health System has a great guide, Learning Disabilities:

What are learning disabilities (LD)? 

If your child is not doing as well in school as they have the potential to, they may have a learning disability. Having a learning disability means having a normal intelligence but a problem in one or more areas of learning.

A learning disability is a neurobiological disorder; people with LD have brains that learn differently because of differences in brain structure and/or function.  If a person learns differently due to visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, we do not call it a learning disability.

Some people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder orADHD.

LDs can affect many different areas:

  • Spoken language—problems in listening and speaking
  • Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them
  • Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas
  • Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts
  • Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts
  • Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions
  • Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration and making friends
  • Physical coordination—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping
  • Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan
  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes

Why is early diagnosis and treatment so important?

When LDs are not found and treated early on, they tend to snowball.  As kids get more and more behind in school, they may become more and more frustrated, feeling like a failure. Often, self-esteem problems lead to bad behavior and other problems.  High school dropout rates are much higher for students with LDs than for those without [1].   These educational differences, in turn, affect the job and earnings prospects for people with LDs.  When LD is not noticed or not treated, it can cause adult literacy problems.   By identifying LDs early, your child will get the help they need to reach their potential.

How common are learning disabilities?

Educators estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of kids between ages 6 and 17 have learning disabilities [2]. More than half of the kids receiving special education in the United States have LDs [3]Dyslexia is the most common LD; 80 percent of students with LDs have dyslexia [4].

What causes learning disabilities? 

Because there are lots of kinds of learning disabilities, it is hard to diagnose them and pinpoint the causes. LDs seem to be caused by the brain, but the exact causes are not known. Some risk factors are:

         Heredity

         Low birth weight, prematurity, birth trauma or distress

         Stress before or after birth

         Treatment for cancer or leukemia

         Central nervous system infections

         Severe head injuries

          Chronic medical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma

          Poor nutrition

 LDs are not caused by environmental factors, like cultural differences, or bad teaching.

When your child is diagnosed with a LD, the most important thing is not to look back and try to figure out if something went wrong. Instead, think about moving forward and finding help .http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/ld.htm

Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child. Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability.http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/learning-disability/

Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/02/survey-most-people-dont-know-what-a-learning-disability-is/

Joy Resmovits reported in the Huffington Post article, More Minority Students Should Be In Special Ed, Study Says:

study released Wednesday, led by Penn State education professor Paul Morgan, suggests that’s the case. Schools have been identifying too few minority students for placement in special education, he claims — in some cases, by a margin as large as 60 percent.

According to a U.S. Education Department study, in fall 2012, 1.08 million black students and 1.24 million Hispanic students ages 6 to 21 were receiving special education services. Of the 5.7 million total special education students, black students comprised 19 percent and Hispanic students 21.8 percent. That same year, 11.3 percent of black students and 8.2 percent of Hispanic students were placed in special education, compared with 8.2 percent of white students.

Morgan bases his conclusion on the assertion that civil rights activists and educators who say too many minority students are in special education have been relying on simple comparisons.

“If general school age population is 14 percent black, you would expect 14 percent of students who are black would be represented in special education,” Morgan said. “But 19 percent of the special ed population is black. That’s been taken as a disparity.”

This reported disparity led the federal government to mandate monitoring of the percentages of minority students placed in special education. School districts found exceeding expected percentages “due to inappropriate identification” are required to allocate 15 percent of a specific funding stream to reducing that number through early intervention, a program to help kids when they’re younger, instead of putting them in separate educational programs for their entire academic lives.

“Children who are minorities are more likely to be exposed to the risk factors that contribute to having a disability: more likely to be exposed to lead, born into poverty, fetal alcohol syndrome,” Morgan said. “You have to take that into account in terms of understanding who is under- or over-represented in special education. Research has not done that — it has relied on simple unadjusted contrasts….”                                             http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/special-education-minorities_n_7649330.html

See, Minority students are underrepresented in special education        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150624100331.htm

Citation:

Minority students are underrepresented in special education

Date:               June 24, 2015

Source:           American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Summary:

A new federally funded study finds that racial, ethnic, and language minority elementary- and middle-school students are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities and, as a result, are disproportionately underrepresented in special education. These findings differ from most prior education research and contrast with current federal legislation and policies.

Journal Reference:

  1. L. Morgan, G. Farkas, M. M. Hillemeier, R. Mattison, S. Maczuga, H. Li, M. Cook. Minorities Are Disproportionately Underrepresented in Special Education: Longitudinal Evidence Across Five Disability ConditionsEducational Researcher, 2015; DOI:10.3102/0013189X15591157

Here is the press release from the American Educational Research Association:

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2015

Contact:
Tony Pals, tpals@aera.net
office: (202) 238-3235
cell: (202) 288-9333
Bridget Jameson, bjameson@aera.net
office: (202) 238-3233

Study Finds Minority Students Are Underrepresented in Special Education
Finding Conflicts with Current Federal Legislation and Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2015—A new federally funded study finds that racial, ethnic, and language minority elementary- and middle-school students are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities and, as a result, are disproportionately underrepresented in special education. These findings differ from most prior education research and contrast with current federal legislation and policies. The study was published online today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Authors Paul L. Morgan of the Pennsylvania State University, George Farkas of University of California, Irvine, and Marianne M. Hillemeier, Richard Mattison, Steve Maczuga, Hui Li, and Michael Cook, all of the Pennsylvania State University, found that racial and ethnic minority children are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as disabled across all five of the surveyed disability conditions—learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, or emotional disturbances—and, so, are less likely to receive potentially beneficial special education services. Language minority children are less likely than otherwise similar children from English-speaking homes to be identified as having learning disabilities or speech or language impairments.

Long-standing and ongoing federal legislation and policymaking has attempted to reduce what has been repeatedly reported to be minority overrepresentation in special education. The U.S. Department of Education is currently considering issuing further compliance monitoring guidelines regarding minority overrepresentation.

“Our findings indicate that federal legislation and policies currently designed to reduce minority over-representation in special education may be misdirected,” said Morgan. “These well-intentioned policies instead may be exacerbating the nation’s education inequities by limiting minority children’s access to potentially beneficial special education and related services to which they may be legally entitled.”

The authors analyzed multiyear longitudinal and nationally representative data from the U.S. Department of Education. The analyses extensively controlled for child-, family-, and state-level variables. These included children’s own academic achievement and behavior, whether they were born with low birth weight, family socioeconomic status and access to health insurance, and their state of residence, among other factors.

“Prior studies have mostly looked at simple, unadjusted comparisons between the general population and the special education population, or differences among minority and non-minority students with controls only at the district or school level,” said Morgan. “Yet these studies have often not accounted for minority children’s greater exposure to factors that increase the risk for disabling conditions. In contrast, our study corrects at the child- and family-levels for minority children’s greater exposure to these risk factors, including the strong predictors of academic achievement or behavior for a school-based disability diagnosis.”

The study’s findings indicated that the underrepresentation of minority children was evident throughout elementary and middle school.

Additional results include:

  • African American children have odds of learning disability identification that are 58 percent lower than those of otherwise similar white children. African American children’s odds of identification for speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, health impairments, and emotional disturbances are, respectively, 63 percent, 57 percent, 77 percent, and 64 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.
  • Hispanic children have odds of learning disability, speech or language impairments, or other health impairments that are, respectively, 29 percent, 33 percent, and 73 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.
  • Children from non-English-speaking households have odds of learning disabilities as well as speech or language impairment identification that are, respectively, 28 percent and 40 percent lower than otherwise similar children from English-speaking households.
  • Children from families without health insurance are less likely to be identified as having speech or language impairments.
  • Children from families with lower levels of education and income are less likely to be identified as having other health impairments.

“This underrepresentation may result from teachers, school psychologists, and other education professionals responding differently to white, English-speaking children and their parents,” said Morgan. “Education professionals should be attentive to cultural and language barriers that may keep minority children with disabilities from being appropriately identified and treated.”

“Untreated disabilities increase children’s risk for many adversities, including persistent academic and behavioral difficulties in school,” Morgan said. “As a matter of social justice, we should work to ensure that all children with disabilities, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or language use, receive the care they need.”

Funding Note
Funding for this study was provided by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Infrastructure support was provided by Penn State’s Population Research Institute through funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.aera.net/Newsroom/NewsReleasesandStatements/StudyFindsMinorityStudentsAreUnderrepresentedinSpecialEducation/tabid/16001/Default.aspx

All Children Have A Right to A Good Basic Education.

Resources:

Early warning signs of a learning disability

http://www.babycenter.com/0_early-warning-signs-of-a-learning-disability_67978.bc

How to know if your child has a learning disability

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/advice/how-to-know-if-your-child-has-a-learning-disability/2012/05/08/gIQAvzLvAU_story.html

If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability

http://www.ncld.org/parents-child-disabilities/ld-testing/if-you-suspect-child-has-learning-disability

Learning Disabilities in Children

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities.htm

Learning Disabilities (LD)

http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld

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