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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change

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Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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4. Enacting Research: Disability Studies in Education and Performative Inquiry

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JAN W. VALLE

“Theatre has had an historic role in society as providing a relatively safe way of talking back to power. Across many cultures and traditions over time we can trace patterns and instances of groups of people using the stage as a space and place to tell their stories.”

—Prendergast & Saxton (2009)

As a professor in the childhood education program at the City College of New York (CCNY) who teaches inclusive education courses outside of a special education program, I primarily identify as a disability studies in education (DSE) scholar. I came to the DSE community having been a special education teacher, co-founder and educational director of a private school for children with learning disabilities, educational evaluator/consultant/parent advocate for a developmental pediatrics clinic, and educational director for a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting lifespan needs of people with learning disabilities. I consider my current work within the university as the latest iteration of a longtime engagement with the field of special education. It is within this multiplicity of lived experiences that I ground my DSE research agenda.

Central to my research is the understanding of disability as a civil rights issue. As an undergraduate majoring in special education as P.L. 94–142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1975) passed into law, I was deeply influenced by the political activism of parents of children with disabilities and their advocates whose efforts redefined a nation’s response to disability....

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