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Special Education, Teacher Education, and Diversity

In most developed nations, special education is available to between 5% and 15% of the school-age population for some portion of schooling. At the higher end of these percentages, the majority of disability diagnoses reflect professional judgments about learning and behavior needs that are social constructions about differences challenging the mainstream rather than inherent child characteristics. For “high incidence” diagnoses such as learning disabilities and behavior disorders, special education inevitably intersects with dimensions of diversity such as culture, language, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, family structure, and community values—wherever there is potential for a clash between the culture of the child and the culture of the regular classroom and school. Rather than seeing special education as an innovation ensuring that schools take responsibility for all ...

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