Market-driven educational reforms have been a popular strategy to improve urban school districts since the 1990s, and research on this topic has flourished in the last decades. Yet, attention to the unique experiences of Black and Latinx students with disabilities and their families in market-driven school districts is rare. Drawing on 7 years of quantitative, qualitative, and spatial analysis as well as his experience as an engaged scholar in the city of Chicago, Dr. Waitoller will present a research agenda that fills this knowledge gap in school choice research. As an example of this line of research, he will present a study that examines the experiences of Black and Latinx parents of students with disabilities selecting and attending a charter school. The study employs a qualitative design informed by critical notions of disability, race, and space. The findings are presented in four interrelated acts: Act I: Stories of Desperation and Optimistic Attachments; Act II: The Attrition of the Fantasy of ‘Inclusion’; Act III: Bargaining Fantasies; and Act IV: The Consequences. The presentation will conclude with a bold proposal to build the next generation of inclusive schools and related implications for teacher learning programs.
Federico R. Waitoller is an associate professor in the department of special education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research agenda focuses on urban inclusive education and has two strands: teacher learning and pedagogies for inclusive education and market-driven reforms in education. He is the recipient of the Researcher of the Year 2018, Rising Star in Social Sciences Award at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the co-editor of Inclusive Education: Examining Equity in Five Continents by Harvard Education Press. His forthcoming book Excluded by Choice: Students with Disabilities in the Education Marketspace by Teachers College Press is the first book to examine the complex experiences of Black and Latinx students with disabilities and their families with market-driven educational reforms.