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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education

Series:

Diane Linder Berman and David J. Connor

This book is a true story of one family’s journey into inclusive education. Having previously been told that her son Benny had "failed to function" in two exclusionary special education classrooms in New York City, Berman’s family set off in search of a school where Benny would be accepted for who he was, while having the opportunity to grow and flourish academically, socially, and emotionally alongside his brother, Adam. Connor’s interest was piqued when Berman shared her desire to document the ways in which the new school community had supported Benny throughout the years. Together, they thought, surely other teachers, school and district level administrators, parents of children with and without disabilities, teacher educators, and student teachers, could learn from such a success story?

The result of their collaboration is this book in which Berman skillfully narrates episodes across time, describing ways in which children, teachers, educational assistants, parents, and a principal came to know Benny—developing numerous and often creative ways to include him in their classrooms, school, and community. Connor’s commentaries after each chapter link practice to theory, revealing ways in which much of what the school community seems to "do naturally" is, in fact, highly compatible with a Disability Studies in Education (DSE) approach to inclusive education. By illuminating multiple approaches that have worked to include Benny, the authors invite educators and families to envision further possibilities within their own contexts.

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Foreword by Jan W. Valle

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FOREWORD

This significant contribution to the Disability Studies in Education (DSE) series takes the reader inside a model inclusive elementary school that embodies DSE tenets within its everyday practices. It is also, perhaps more importantly, the story of a school community that changes the life of a family and a school community changed by a family. Told in a “double-voiced” format by Diane, the mother of a child with a disability (who is also a classroom teacher and teacher educator) and David, a DSE scholar/teacher educator, the authors clearly and skillfully render how the personal is political through the integration of storytelling and DSE theory. In each chapter, Diane shares a narrative that reveals a particular point along her family’s journey, followed by David’s analysis of the narrative using DSE theory. For readers unfamiliar with the tenets of DSE, the volume is an excellent introduction to the application of DSE to a real-life school and family context.

This is the story of a family; however, it is not without significance that it is a story told by a mother. Although the father appears within the narrative, it is without question a mother’s story. As a fellow DSE scholar who writes about mothers of children with disabilities, I have argued elsewhere that the experience of motherhood necessarily intersects with the social influences of the culture within which a woman carries out her role as mother—and ← xiii | xiv → American culture persists in holding...

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