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Citation:Bursztyn, A. (2002). The path to academic disability: JavierÕs school experience. In C. Korn & A. Bursztyn (Eds.), Rethinking multicultural education: Case studies in cultural transition (pp. 160-183). Westport, CT:Bergin & Garvey.

This case study is intended to shed light on the process that results in disproportionate numbers of immigrant and racial minority children being identified as educationally disabled. It examines in depth the persistent inequities of referral practices that raise fundamental questions about the treatment of culturally and linguistically diverse children in public schools. The authors found that in JaviarÕs particular case, advocacy and parental education failed to bring about corrective change, and the momentum generated by a first grade referral gained speed and strength, even in the face of conflicting evidence and observations. This study evolved from a supervised action research project conducted by one of the authorÕs graduate students in a graduate course in research methods. The author cautions professionals about ignoring the knowledge of practitioners and parents grounded in extensive interaction and observation of students just because they are not trained special education professionals. The author encourages a more constructive path of problem solving that does not seek to validate a prior expectation of disability because of cultural and linguistic diversity. While this study was conducted using case study research methods it is important to remember that it is an in-depth analysis of one childÕs situation and may not be transferable to all others.

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