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Disability, Schooling and the Artifacts of Colonialism

by Christopher Kliewer & Linda May Fitzgerald - 2001

Eloquent, empirical, and philosophic decrees have been put forth describing and demanding a fundamental democratization of American public education. The primary foci of these critiques have centered on race, class, and gender. All but absent from the multicultural, feminist, and critical studies of schooling are serious analyses of the subjugation experienced by students tagged with disability labels. No other culturally recognized group of students experiences a similar mass level of deterministic segregation, tracking, and systematic social devaluation. That calls for school democratization consistently ignore students with disabilities suggests to us a certain ambivalence on the part of progressive scholars toward the place of disability in a just and excellent school: "Perhaps at disability," so the logic must go, "we have encountered an essential need for separation." In this paper, we reject the essentialist notion of the need to exclude children with disabilities from the community of school. We trace the origin of disability segregation to the advent of Western colonialism, and demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between cultural and racial oppression and the oppression of people with disabilities. We end with an urgent argument to include disability issues within postcolonial educational frameworks.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 103 Number 3, 2001, p. 450-470
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10764, Date Accessed: 9/20/2020 9:39:25 AM

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About the Author
  • Christopher Kliewer
    University of Northern Iowa
    E-mail Author
    Christopher Kliewer is associate professor of special education, University of Northern Iowa. He is an advocate for disability rights and promotes the full participation of all students in inclusive education.
  • Linda Fitzgerald
    University of Northern Iowa
    E-mail Author
    Linda May Fitzgerald is associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Northern Iowa and research fellow in the Regentís Center for Early Developmental Education. She is co-author, with Alison Clarke-Stewart and Chris Gruber, of Children at Home and in Day Care (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994).
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