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Enacting Change from Within

Disability Studies Meets Teaching and Teacher Education


Edited By Meghan Cosier and Christine Ashby

Disability Studies in Education (DSE) provides a useful and compelling framework for re-envisioning the possibility of education for all students. However, the philosophies of Disability Studies (DS) can be seen as contradictory to many mainstream values and practices in K-12 education. In an ever-shifting educational landscape, where students with disabilities continue to face marginalization and oppression, teachers and teacher educators are seeking ways to address these educational inequities. They desire realistic and specific ways to work toward social justice, from within the confines of current education systems. Enacting Change from Within aims to provide a framework through which to analyze and address policy and practice in education, offering practical yet visionary ways to frame social justice work in schools that consider the day-to-day responsibilities of teachers. This book is intended to encourage an important dialogue on how to do the work of education from a DS perspective while complying with the often incongruous and deeply entrenched policy and practice requirements in our schools. This book is ideal for current and future teachers seeking to create more just, equitable and inclusive schools.
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Chapter Fourteen: Professional Development in Inclusive School Reform: The Need for Critical and Functional Approaches


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Professional Development IN Inclusive School Reform: The Need FOR Critical AND Functional Approaches



Well, it worked well this year, cuz ya know, the students with IEPs [individualized education programs] in my class were high functioning. Inclusion was good for them, but I don’t think it works for some of the other students who are really low. I don’t think I could do inclusion with one of them in my class. We would probably have to have a special teacher and a separate room for them.

The preceding quote is from a teacher I worked with at an inclusive school. A year after the successful implementation of an inclusive school reform initiative at this local elementary school, I sat down with some teachers to ask them about their experiences teaching in an inclusive school.1 Specifically, I wanted to know their thoughts on the successes of the previous year and whether or not they felt the school would continue to serve students with disabilities by way of an inclusive service delivery model. After the teacher made the above comment, I looked around at the other teachers at the table and saw many heads nod in agreement. Even though this teacher had attended numerous hours of “professional development” on inclusive practices and had expressed that she had a positive experience teaching in an inclusive classroom, her core beliefs related to students with disabilities suggested that...

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