I know this is politically incorrect to say, but there are kids out there that are just plain stupid as far as some schoolwork goes. They work hard. They go for tutoring. They just don't get it. I have many kids like this in my M&C class. These are the kids that are breaking my heart. No matter how much they do, their test grades are still in the 20 - 30 range. One of my little girls gives up her lunch daily to go over work with me in the library. She can somehow manage to factor and divide complicated fractions, but she forgets how to factor when the factoring is alone. She can't remember the simplest facts, even if we have gone over them five minutes before the exam. I wouldn't label this child as one who needs special education because I really don't think test modifications would do the trick for her. It doesn't matter how slow we go, or how long I give her to finish a test. She is clueless. That doesn't mean that she can't receive an education, or go on to a career where she will make a ton of money. She just can't do math (and I've heard she has severe problems in English also.) One of my students is a resource room kid. He gets extended time on exams. I found a calculus student willing to work with him, almost on a daily basis. He's still failing. He too could use an alternate course of study.
I would label a learning disabled child as a child who has the capacity to learn, one who might need some modifications, but one that is intelligent enough to master the material. I don't think that is what is being done now. Kids that don't achieve are being tested and labeled. They are put in special education classes. The big drawback is that these kids are expected to master the same material as anyone else. The only difference is that the classes they are in are smaller. The work can't go any slower because they are expected to pass the same regent exams in the same amount of semesters as anyone else. Instead of using the label learning disabled, we need to figure out a way of helping these kids. Helping them is not forcing them to take courses that they cannot master.