chapter  24
23 Pages

Theorizing Disability: Implications and Applications for Social Justice in Education


Any reference to disability in education in the United States immediately draws associations with special education. Perhaps this makes some sense given special education’s historical claim on disabled young people. In fact, special education in the United States once offered hope to so many families whose disabled children remained at home or languished in institutions because until 1975 the public schools were not required or expected to educate them (Safford & Safford, 1996). Yet now special education is implicated in resegregating schools (Losen & Orfi eld, 2002), watering down curriculum (Brantlinger, 2006), and stigmatizing difference (Reid &Valle, 2004). In the United States, we fi nd ourselves in an era different from the one in which Public Law 94-142, now the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act (IDEIA) (NICHCY, 1996; U.S. Department of Education, 2005), fi rst became federal law-an era of new technologies; values and beliefs about difference and diversity; notions about what counts as “an education,” who “gets an education,” or who gets a rigorous academic curriculum; and, fi nally, ideas about the possibilities and promises of an inclusive society.