Learning Disability Accommodation and Signaling
By Bryan Caplan
Reader Joe Munson sent me this thoughtful message. Reprinted with his permission.
It occurred to me the other day that many high schools and even colleges will basically waive certain subjects for you if you have even moderate learning disabilities (or can get a psychologist to say you do). Foreign languages, gym, even math can basically be waived (I know, because math and foreign languages were waived for me).
This is strange, if these subjects were so crucial, you would think schools would want to force the people with learning disabilities to spend more class time on them, not less.
Moreover, my university would actually let you test out of foreign language classes and get the credits for taking them– just as long as you paid them for the knowledge you already knew (tons of people did and do this, and thought it was super reasonable)
I just thought I would email you because I think it may be particularly convincing to some people, because rhetorically, if you want to defend the status que, you either have to say disabled students won’t succeed anyway, or concede that the subjects are not important.
It’s also so strange that the Ken Robinson talk is the most viewed TED talk and it argues that school creates a massive negative externality by killing creativity. If he is right then schools are really much worse than basically everyone realizes.
I just thought it might add to the persuasiveness of your education as 80 percent signaling theory, which seems so profoundly correct to me.
P.S. Hope to see you at Capla-Con Austin!