Running Head: RESEARCH PROPOSAL-SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCESS
Culturally, Linguistically, and Ability Diverse Families’
Experience with the Special Education Process
Mona M Assaf
George Mason University
EDUC 893-Fall 2008
Research Proposal-Special Education Process 2
Educational research has long documented the over representation of culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse (CLAD) children in special education, yet few studies have investigated parent/family experiences and perceptions of the process. Any research or literature review of the special education process will require defining several key terms; special education, IDEA Laws, over-representation, minority, CLAD students, CLAD parents/families, social power, social capital, and culturally responsive practices. Clear, research based, theoretical definitions of these terms will serve as the foundation for my literature review of the proposed research questions. The purpose of providing definitions is two-fold; a way to communicate and establish a shared understanding of a complex social phenomena/institution, such as the special education process/experience. This fact becomes especially important when shifting the lens through which the issue is being viewed. I am looking to shift from the dominant cultural view that sees the individual as at fault, to how the system failed the individual
(Spindler & Hammond, 2006). This shift requires one to move away from the United States educational systems “…long history of blaming the victim” (Spindler & Hammond, 2006, p. 14).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of CLAD families within the context of special education and investigate the impact of power dynamics and intercultural communication or miscommunication in the process. I see the ‘working hypothesis’ as revolving around: How power plays into the CLAD family experience within the United States special education system? How do they (the family) feel the special education experience has impacted their child’s racial/ethnic identity? Plus, begin to examine what significance these factors have on the families’ perceptions of the special education system and their child’s cultural/racial
Research Proposal-Special Education Process 3 identity. The ultimate goal of this project is to shed light on how the dominate cultural norms and values influence the special education process when working with CLAD families.
The research questions for this project continue to investigate the power dynamic and cultural disconnect between the special education process and CLAD families. My main question is
How does dominant culture (white/middle class/American) values and social norms get communicated to culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse families through the US special education process?
The main question is the over-arching theme of the research. The secondary investigation of this research involves CLAD student identity within the special education setting.
In what ways, does the U.S. special education process influence, transmit, and communicate mainstream cultural values, social norms and stereotypes to CLAD students and families?
The central questions are
What does it mean to be disabled and/ or have special need in the US particularly in schools? •
How do ‘dominant’/ ‘mainstream’ values, norms, and stereotypes impact and influence the identity of CLAD children and their families?
The research questions served as the bases for the set of literature I will be reviewing. I know that, as I begin to read more research, some of the questions will change to demonstrate my more refined thinking about the topic. I am a bit concerned about the fact that this type of research might have already been done, but I am not completely sure of this. The other