How and Why Context Matters in the Study of Racial Disproportionality in Special Education: Toward a Critical Disability Education Policy Approach

Adai A. Tefera, Gustavo E. Fischman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Racial disproportionality in special education is an ongoing injustice in schools in the United States. In this article, we investigate the key relationships among education policy, context, and racial disproportionality in special education. We examine this nexus by analyzing one U.S. school district’s response to federal citations for disproportionality in both the over-identification of students of color in special education and over-representation of students of color with disabilities being disciplined. Our findings demonstrate the important role of historical legacies of inequality and the limitations of technical approaches to equity oriented education policies. We end by offering a critical disability education policy approach that accounts for complex sociocultural contexts, attending to disability and its intersections, in an effort to move toward more just and equitable education policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-449
Number of pages16
JournalEquity and Excellence in Education
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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