Caribbean Discourse in Inclusive Education
reviewed by Patriann Smith - January 31, 2019
Title: Caribbean Discourse in Inclusive Education
Author(s): Stacey Blackman & Dennis Conrad (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681237970, Pages: 322, Year: 2017
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In Caribbean Discourse in Inclusive Education, Stacey Blackman and Dennis Conrad respond to traditional notions of inclusive education that omit individuals of African-Caribbean origin and provide a premise for discussing emerging concepts in inclusive education in the Caribbean context. This premise allows them to move beyond limited notions of inclusive education, such as those that focus exclusively on special education in the region (e.g., Johnstone, 2010). Their comprehensive approach to inclusiveness across countries within the English-speaking Caribbean, emphasis on the complexity of exclusivity as a force that instantiates inclusivity, and explicit focus on special education as an inclusive practice are all elements that allow this book to move discussions of inclusive education forward in ways that reflect a broad equity agenda for all students (Waitoller & Artiles, 2013, p. 321).
Part One, Building the Structure to Support Inclusive Education, focuses on the ways in which reform occurs through policy and how the implementation of policy is sometimes delayed or never fully enacted. The authors in this section draw from the previously colonized contexts of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to demonstrate the ways in which political will, a vision for reform, and a commitment to progress despite delay are crucial if policies are to emerge that guide inclusive education and special education practices in schools and educational systems. The authors insights regarding these policies point to challenges that remain if these Caribbean nations are to adequately incorporate notions of intersectionality into a working definition of inclusive education.
Part Two, Shaping the Landscape of Inclusive Education, focuses on the range of issues that emerge in the English-speaking Caribbean context when discussing inclusive education. The authors in this section problematize the ways in which teachers respond to students home vs. school languages during instruction, question the misalignment between students learning needs and high-stakes assessment systems, challenge the disregard for students multiple identities that affect their social and academic experiences, highlight exclusivity in responding to orphanhood, call for reform in preparation for school leadership for inclusion, and examine factors inhibiting creativity in the process of meeting the goals of inclusive education. By focusing on challenges across such a wide range of issues, the authors demonstrate their alignment with international discussions of inclusive education that reflect a broad equity agenda for all students (e.g., Waitoller & Artiles, 2013, p. 321). Moreover, through the identification of issues critical to inclusivity for orphans, a student population hardly central to research in inclusive education, the authors highlight future directions for extending discussions regarding inclusivity in educational research.
Part Three, Voices from the Trenches, focuses on teacher, student, and stakeholder voices. From the voices of youth who highlight their experiences with and perceptions of homosexuality and special education to teachers expressing their anxieties related to the needs of diverse student populations, the authors paint a vivid portrait of the ways in which those who enact inclusive education in and beyond schools engage with issues that are used to exclude students from mainstream educational practices. The authors share insights into cultural injustices of misrecognition among transgender, gay, and lesbian students as well as political injustices of misrepresentation that persist for the disabled and those with attention deficit hyperactivity, all of whom are positioned on the margins of the educational system (Waitoller & Thorius, 2016, p. 368).
Overall, Caribbean Discourse in Inclusive Education presents a thorough discussion of inclusive education in the English-speaking Caribbean, beginning with an overview of the historical context and emphasizing the need for policies to be enacted with greater immediacy if the issues facing marginalized students are to be addressed. It also demonstrates the need to include the diverse, varied voices of students and other stakeholders in contemporary discussions of inclusive education. Educators and teachers in the English-speaking Caribbean will find this book useful for understanding exclusivity and how it occurs based on under-examined issues such as orphanhood and LGBT experiences in schools across Caribbean countries. Those who operate beyond the context of the Caribbean will obtain a unique and nuanced portrait of inclusive education in this part of the world.
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