Reframing the Racialization of Disabilities in Policy

Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides, Adai Tefera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Racial disproportionality in special education is a deep seated and complex educational inequity plaguing the United States educational system. In this article we outline how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, although a civil rights based legislation, cannot sufficiently address racially disproportionate outcomes in special education. We argue that mandating equity through technical and procedural mandates cannot attend to the sociocultural and social contexts in which policy is appropriated to practice. We outline how symbolic changes to educational practice do not account for the effects of personal biases and the complexities associated with how race manifests in society and within policy mandates. We conclude with recommendations for third order change (Welner, 2001), which challenges practitioners to not just comply with educational policy but, to also reflect on their own capacities, beliefs and understandings of disproportionality within broader social and cultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalTheory Into Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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