Social Justice & Special
EDU363: Education & Social Justice
October 8, 2013
Social Justice & Special Education
As we send our children to school we often
think and wonder if they are being treated right,
“fitting in”, or are they okay. Teachers as we
assume, are there to treat them equally and teach
them. However, that is not always the case, we
have to really get to know the expectations of the
classrooms as well as where is my child being
placed and are they learning anything. The role of education
in promoting equality and social justice is a major
preoccupation of the politicians who play a central role in
deciding what is taught in schools, where it is taught, to
whom and by whom (Smith, 2011).
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What is going on?
The social justice issue
that is going on in the
schools regarding special
education is that students
are being treated
differently regarding their
• Low expectations
from teachers who fail
to challenge minority
• Placement criteria is
subjective and arbitrary
• Behavioral issues; the
desire to get rid of a
In recent Studies…
In a study by Harry and Klinger (2007) one
teacher from the southeast United States
admitted to removing students from their
classroom and instead requesting placement
special education because they were a “pain
in the neck.”
What is Social Justice?
Adams, Bell and Griffin (2007) define
social justice as both a process and a
goal. "The goal of social justice
education is full and equal participation
of all groups in a society that is
mutually shaped to meet their needs.
Social justice includes a vision of society
that is equitable and all members are
physically and psychologically safe and
Affecting our students
Social justice has been affecting our students in
the special education programs. They are looked
at as students whom can not or are not capable of
learning or interacting socially with the
Teachers do not communicate well with them
almost as if they were not there. They are not
receiving a warm welcome as they should be due
to their disability.
How do these students feel?
Student achievement has gone down the
drain for these students. They do not want to
perform as they should because they are not
getting recognized by their teachers or peers.
Students with disabilities are looked at with
little confidence that they too can achieve
things. If teachers and others would sit down
and acknowledge how much they are capable
of doing then they will continue to work
harder to have others recognize them.
We understand that classrooms are sites of
cultural and social re- production and therefore
cultural and social hierarchies must be carefully
examined for the ways inequality and injustice are
produced and perpetuated within the curriculum,
the classroom, and the school (Oyler, 2001).
In the school systems…
The dual system of special education and
general education divides children into two
categories: normal and abnormal. Thus, disability
is viewed as pathology and after a full diagnostic
process, a label is attached to the child. Special
education professionals then relieve
general educators of the responsibility
for educating the child and design special,
remedial educational services (Oyler, 2001).
Policy on treating each other..
As an educator I would apply as much
knowledge to parents, peers and other students
regarding our special needs students. We are all to be
treated as equals and should all be given an
opportunity to show others what we are capable of
doing. Students have no boundaries they are capable
of feelings, and interacting.
As a community we must learn to understand
that we may be different but we still need to treat
each other as individuals and with respect. Treat
others as you would like to be treated.
As a community and partnership with parents we
must work together to ensure the success in our
students in the special needs programs. We will
have monthly trainings and meetings to address
any concerns. In each class we must make every
attempt to teach and acknowledge when hard
work as been taken. By inspiring others to
change in the way they view our special needs
students and showing them how successful and
full of love and knowledge they have.
Barriers and Solutions
There are many factors that could
affect or hinder the growth for this
opportunity in helping our students, the
funding available for our programs,
classrooms, instruments and resources.
There are many solutions for these
barriers: fundraisers, donations, yard sales
and government assistance for resources.
Lets make a commitment!
Including everyone in the community will help to
spread the word out on equality and special needs
awareness. These individuals are people just like
us with many ways to amaze us on their teachings
and doings. Lets get involved in the community
showing them that we welcome them and their
differences. There will be many relays,
fundraisers, awareness meetings, and activities to
Wear your Special Needs or Education t-
shirts to support our cause on teaching others how
differences are always welcomed.
Cox, S., (2008).Equity In Elementary and Secondary
Education: Race, Gender, and National Origin
Oyler, C., (2001). Preparing Teachers of
Young Children to be Social Justice
Smith, (2011). An Introduction to Education &Social
Harry, Beth and Klinger, Janette (2007). Discarding the
Deficit Model, Educational Leadership, 64, 5, pp. 16-