Theorizing Disability

Implications and Applications for Social Justice in Education

Authored by: Susan L. Gabel , David J. Connor

Handbook of Social Justice in Education

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805859270
eBook ISBN: 9780203887745
Adobe ISBN: 9781135596149


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Any reference to disability in education in the United States immediately draws associations with special education. Perhaps this makes some sense given special education’s historical claim on disabled young people. In fact, special education in the United States once offered hope to so many families whose disabled children remained at home or languished in institutions because until 1975 the public schools were not required or expected to educate them (Safford & Safford, 1996). Yet now special education is implicated in resegregating schools (Losen & Orfield, 2002), watering down curriculum (Brantlinger, 2006), and stigmatizing difference (Reid &Valle, 2004). In the United States, we find ourselves in an era different from the one in which Public Law 94-142, now the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act (IDEIA) (NICHCY, 1996; U.S. Department of Education, 2005), first became federal law—an era of new technologies; values and beliefs about difference and diversity; notions about what counts as “an education,” who “gets an education,” or who gets a rigorous academic curriculum; and, finally, ideas about the possibilities and promises of an inclusive society.

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