Two Perspectives On Inclusion in The United States

  • Curt Dudley-Marling Lynch School of Education, Boston College
  • Mary Bridget Burns Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Keywords: inclusion, equity,


The history of schooling for students with disabilities in the United States is marked by exclusion and, until the passage of the Education for All Children Act in the 1970s, a substantial number of students with disabilities were denied free public education and many more were poorly served by public schools. The requirement that all children be educated in the ΓÇ£least restrictive environmentΓÇ¥ gradually allowed many students with disabilities to be educated alongside their non-disabled peers and today a majority of students with disabilities spend more than 80% of their school days in regular classroom settings. Still, the meaning of inclusion is bitterly disputed fueled in large part by two contrasting views of disability. This paper discusses these two views ΓÇô a deficit stance and a social constructivist perspective ΓÇô and the effects of these views on the meaning of inclusion, the purpose of inclusion, and how inclusive education is achieved.

Author Biography

Curt Dudley-Marling, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Curt Dudley-Marling is a professor of language and literacy in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. His interests include language and literaray, especially for struggling learners as well as Disability Studies.