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“This mess we're in” & Other History Lessons Beth A. Ferri Syracuse University.

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Presentation on theme: "“This mess we're in” & Other History Lessons Beth A. Ferri Syracuse University."— Presentation transcript:

1 “This mess we're in” & Other History Lessons Beth A. Ferri Syracuse University

2 Reading Resistance: Discourses of Exclusion in Desegregation and Inclusion Debates Ferri, BA & Connor, DJ Peter Lang Publisher 2006 Original cover design by David J. Connor

3 Anniversaries…a time for reflection 50 th anniversary of Brown 30 th anniversary of IDEA Yet, schools are as segregated as they ever were, with white students remaining the most segregated of all student groups and students with disabilities continuing to be educated in segregated classrooms.

4 Separate and Unequal “Separation on the basis of disability is apt to leave an enduring imprint on the hearts and minds of disabled young people” - Harlan Hahn Segregating Black students creates “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way very unlikely ever to be undone” - Justice Warren

5 “Troubling” Origin stories “Brown v. Board of Education, is also listed in most of the leading [special education] texts…as the “first major special education law” -Zirkel, 2005 “Brown v. Board of Education, is also listed in most of the leading [special education] texts…as the “first major special education law” -Zirkel, 2005

6 “Ability Profiling” -Collins, 2003 The Office of Civil Rights has reported persistent overrepresentation of students of color in special education since the 1970s.

7 Checking the facts… Black students are 3 times as likely to be labeled MR; 2 times as likely to be labeled ED; and, 1.5 times as likely to be labeled LD as white students. Black students are 3 times as likely to be labeled MR; 2 times as likely to be labeled ED; and, 1.5 times as likely to be labeled LD as white students. Once labeled students of color are more likely to be placed in more restrictive placements than their white peers. -Losen, D.J. & Orfield, G. (2000)

8 To the Editor of the NYT: I have read the recent decision of the Supreme Court…It is every child’s Magna Charta…[ensuring every child’s] right to learn and to relate himself to this world. [In addition to Black students,] there are close to five million other children who will be directly affected by this decision. I am not speaking of…white children, many of whom have been injured spiritually by the philosophy and practice of segregation… I have read the recent decision of the Supreme Court…It is every child’s Magna Charta…[ensuring every child’s] right to learn and to relate himself to this world. [In addition to Black students,] there are close to five million other children who will be directly affected by this decision. I am not speaking of…white children, many of whom have been injured spiritually by the philosophy and practice of segregation…

9 I am speaking of disabled children, who are ‘different,’ not because of color, but because of blindness, deafness…or are what we call ‘retarded.’ These children we have also segregated…and kept out of school. And yet…acceptance by others and a natural relationship with [the] world…are necessary for the disabled child if he is to make a good life for himself.… And in the doing of it we adults may grow, too, in wisdom and gentleness. Lillian Smith, [author of “Strange Fruit”] May 31, 1954 I am speaking of disabled children, who are ‘different,’ not because of color, but because of blindness, deafness…or are what we call ‘retarded.’ These children we have also segregated…and kept out of school. And yet…acceptance by others and a natural relationship with [the] world…are necessary for the disabled child if he is to make a good life for himself.… And in the doing of it we adults may grow, too, in wisdom and gentleness. Lillian Smith, [author of “Strange Fruit”] May 31, 1954

10 So, the question remains… Is inclusion one civil rights struggle building upon another? … Or, is the relationship between special education and desegregation more complicated???

11 Data Collection Desegregation, New York Times Atlanta (Journal &) Constitution Washington Post Southern School News Desegregation, New York Times Atlanta (Journal &) Constitution Washington Post Southern School News Atlanta Daily World Richmond Afro- American Philadelphia Tribune Chicago Defender

12 Why editorial pages? editorials Op-eds letters to the editor editorial cartoons editorials Op-eds letters to the editor editorial cartoons Interested in everyday discourse rather than Academic or professional debates Legal discussions Range of opinions circulating at the time

13 Lessons Learned 1.Science is always “inside” culture 2.Need for intersectional policy & practice 3.Futility of incremental change 1.Science is always “inside” culture 2.Need for intersectional policy & practice 3.Futility of incremental change 4. When challenging normalcy, expect a struggle 5. Importance of dialogue across difference 6. Power re-circulates

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15 Incremental change The “case-by-case approach [has been] particularly ineffective [in changing] deeply entrenched school system procedures and practices” (Soltman & Moore, 2002)

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17 Ability profiling “draws on cultural narratives and deficit discourses regarding students of color and Black males in particular” (Collins, 2003, p. 192)

18 From different to deficient “Most [AA students are] low average or below average” (Missouri, 1955). The “scholastic differences [are just]…dreadful” (Missouri, 1955). “Most [AA students are] low average or below average” (Missouri, 1955). The “scholastic differences [are just]…dreadful” (Missouri, 1955). The “majority of Negro pupils…are slow learners, need special attention, [and] may ultimately affect the quality of education” (Second year, 1956)

19 “inherently unequal” “It is difficult to find a more clearly racist outcome of than the disproportionate segregation of minority students from the gen.ed. system (Beratan, 2006) “…has the law [IDEA] become a convenient mechanism for sorting individuals based on their perceived abilities and their racial or ethnic identity?” (Fierros, 2006). “It is difficult to find a more clearly racist outcome of than the disproportionate segregation of minority students from the gen.ed. system (Beratan, 2006) “…has the law [IDEA] become a convenient mechanism for sorting individuals based on their perceived abilities and their racial or ethnic identity?” (Fierros, 2006).

20 Expect a struggle… Many forecasted that integrated schools would bring “violence and bloodshed” (SSN, 1956, June) Expect a “counter- attack” and “bloody results” (Hancock, 1954). Many forecasted that integrated schools would bring “violence and bloodshed” (SSN, 1956, June) Expect a “counter- attack” and “bloody results” (Hancock, 1954). Inclusion would bring “disruption” and “chaos” (Lewin, 1997). Students might “lash out in frustration” (Maushard, 1994). It would lead to “juvenile delinquency” (Kent, 1998).

21 Need for intersectional educational reform Brown failed to predict how special education would be used as a mechanism to re- segregate students within otherwise desegregated schools…

22 Recommendations (Harry & Klinger, 2006; Soltman & Moore, 2002) Eliminate labeling; sp.ed. As service to all; Reallocate resources; Stop comparing dissimilar schools and publishing scores; All tests (inc. high stakes) in primary language & with appropriate A/M Eliminate labeling; sp.ed. As service to all; Reallocate resources; Stop comparing dissimilar schools and publishing scores; All tests (inc. high stakes) in primary language & with appropriate A/M Address school-based risk (class size, under- funded schools, unprepared/unqualified teachers; Redefine regular ed classroom as no more than 30% identified or “included” students;

23 Recommendations (Darling-Hammond, 2004; Ferri & Connor, 2006) Focus on inaccessible classroom structures Differentiate Instruction for all students Accountability is a two- way street (need “opportunity to learn standards”) Focus on inaccessible classroom structures Differentiate Instruction for all students Accountability is a two- way street (need “opportunity to learn standards”) De-track Diversify the teaching force and the curriculum Anti-racist Anti-ableist

24 Thank you Questions?


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