Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Galletta, Anne;Banks, Tachelle

Subject Headings

Special education teachers -- Attitudes, Special education -- Case studies, Urban schools -- Case studies, Multicultural education -- Economic aspects, Education, Urban -- Ohio, multicultural education special education


This qualitative case study explored the experience of teachers in special education settings within an urban district in the Midwest. The particular emphasis of the study was to attend to efforts used by teachers to address the issue of equality of opportunity in special education settings serving low-income students of color. Using a case study approach, the research explored what barriers teachers see as getting in the way of equal educational opportunity and how teachers reduce barriers of inequality for their students. In particular, the study looked at the ways in which educators facilitate equality by creating opportunities for students to use their voice and become engaged in their learning. Data collection methods included semi-structured interviews and a focus group with a small group of teachers in special education. The results from this qualitative analysis suggest that teachers act as agents of change in providing resources and attending to the social, emotional, and physical needs of their students. As teachers worked for students' academic success in designing interventions for students and school environments, they authentically empowered both themselves and the youth. Study findings also reveal the persistence of home, community, and school barriers, and the need for school systems to address in concert economic and educational inequity. This research has implications for pre-service teacher education programs, policy, and educational practice

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