[Re]conceptualizing Inclusion: Can Critical Race Theory and Interest Convergence Be Utilized to Achieve Inclusion and Equity for African American Students?
by Shelley D. Zion & Wanda Blanchett — 2011
Background/Context: Even though not fully realized, in legislation and theory, the requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act and the No Child Left Behind Act have created pressure to address the historical inequity in educational opportunity, achievement, and outcomes, as well as disparities in achievement between students of color and White students; disproportionality in special education referral, identification, and placement; high dropout rates for students of color; and disproportionate discipline and referrals for students of color, students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, students from immigrant families, and students in urban areas.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The authors argue that inclusive education never had the potential to be truly inclusive because it is built on the premises of an inferiority paradigm. Issues of race, class, and privilege have rarely been incorporated into the inclusive education definitions or debates in the United States, and certainly not in practice. The purpose of this article is to examine: (a) the historical context of public schooling in America; (b) inclusive education in practice: segregation of African American and other students of color; (c) [re]conceptualizing inclusion: the importance of a social justice lens and critical theory; and (d) the relevance of interest convergence.
Research Design: Analytic essay
Conclusions/Recommendations: The authors contend that the inclusive education movement has not resulted in positive outcomes or inclusion in general education for African American students because the movement was built on faulty assumptions that centered on ability and placement and did not look at the intersection of ability/disability with race, class, culture, and language. More important, the movement did not address issues of racism, White privilege, White dominance, and social class dominance. The authors assert that social justice, critical race theory, and interest convergence are powerful tools with which to [re]conceptualize inclusion and inclusive education in America.
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