Who Decides?

Power, Disability, and Education Administration

Edited by:
Catherine O'Brien, Gallaudet University
William R. Black, University of South Florida
Arnold B. Danzig, San José State University

A volume in the series: Research and Theory in Educational Administration. Editor(s): Arnold B. Danzig, San José State University. William R. Black, University of South Florida.

Call for Chapters

Volume Objective:

Over the last quarter century, educational leadership as a field has developed a broad strand of research that engages issues of social justice, equity and diversity. This includes the work of many scholars who advocate for a variety of equity-oriented leadership preparation approaches. Critical scholarship in Education Administration and Educational Politics is concerned with questions of power and in various ways asks questions around who gets to decide. In line with this broader critical tradition of inquiry, this volume seeks to interrogate policies, research and personnel preparation practices which constitute interactions, discourses, and institutions that construct and enact ability and disability within the disciplinary field of education leadership. To do so, we seek contributions from multidisciplinary perspectives.

This volume seeks to provide a more nuanced view of what it means to be “able”. We ask who decides how to organize schools around criteria of ability and/or disability and what that implies for leadership in schools. The volume is tentatively organized around 5 proposed sections that are described below.

Introduction: Editors

Section 1: Legal, Political, Policy Underpinnings of Disability: Special Education and Free and Appropriate Public Education.

We have many policies that have impacted the education of children in special education. In 1975, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) to support states and localities to protect the rights and meet the individual needs of children with disabilities (Howard, 2004; Yell, 2006; Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 2006). This landmark legislation is currently enacted as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), amended in 1997 and reauthorized in 2004 (Howard, 2004; Yell, 2006; Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 2006). Under IDEA, there are two legally recognized rights of children with disabilities: 1) the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and 2) the right to be educated “to the maximum extent appropriate” in the general education classroom (Wright, 1999). While establishing these rights was an important step, the question arises as to whether the general education classroom should be by default the optimal placement for students (Hult & Compton, 2012). Students with disabilities have the right to an appropriate public education but not the most appropriate education (Yell, 2006). Challenging this notion is the most recent Supreme Court decision, March 22, 2017, to unanimously reverse the lower court’s decision on how students with disabilities are educated - Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. As Justice Roberts stated, “When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all." Therefore, the onus is now on the school district and the principal, the school leaders (not the special educator) to ensure all students within special education are given not only access to the curriculum but also the support needed to achieve in the educational setting.

Section 2: Ontological and Epistemological underpinnings of Disability: Exploring Contributions from Disability Studies and DisCrit

Administrators and school leaders often navigate differences in criteria of match between those in charge of assessing/determining abilities and ethical commitments towards a more inclusive and/or just set of practices. Coming to interrogate who decides implies a broad historical understanding of the nature of ability and constructs associated with disability; it also implies consideration of the ontological and epistemological concerns used to make these determinations, which serve to advantage and disadvantage certain children, youth and educators in schools.

In this section we seek authors who can explore the Ontological and Epistemological challenges to Disability norms and Special Education practices through Critical Disability Studies (CDS) and DisCrit intersectional theoretical frameworks. According Liasidou (2014), disability and race/ethnicity have been intertwined in history, with both providing genetic ‘traits’ that were used as points of exploitation by society in order to scrutinize and discriminate against certain members of society (p.725). However, “unlike other sources of social disadvantage such as race and gender, disability has been excluded from discussions concerning unequal and discriminatory treatment” (Liasidou, 2014, p. 724). Additionally, Liasidou (2014) suggests that “able-bodiedness has a precarious ontological status, unlike whiteness that constitutes a perennial and immutable ontological entity” (p. 729), and that disability is a “potential ontological status” (Liasidou, 2014, p. 729). Not only does DisCrit highlight how normative identity is constructed, but it can push us to consider the social and cultural norms of educational leadership research and preparation for practice. DisCrit is a framework that allows for the critical investigation of “the ways in which race, racism, dis/ability and ableism are built into the interactions, procedures, discourses, and institutions of education” (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013, p. 7).

Section 3: Application of Disability Studies to Research and Theory in Educational Administration

In our view, ability has been the grounding epistemology of schools. Student ability is used to decide what is truth at school; it allows schools to enact systems that rank and stratify participants and asks school leaders to construct and maintain those systems based on criteria that appear to be meritocratic.

Ability, however, is not only a proxy of how student (and by implication, teachers) are judged, but also a determinant of who is valued at school and on what basis they are valued. The challenges raised by this view does not reject the importance of ability in school, but forces educators and education leaders to better understand some of the limits of how ability is operationally defined as well as who benefits and who is penalized by these definitions and applications.

This section of the book asks how the consideration of disability and disability studies perspectives can help to generate policy and school governance critique. We are looking for chapter authors willing to address new research questions about school and district policies. We seek both theoretical considerations and more practical applications such as narratives and case studies of IEP meetings, parental perspectives, and choice dynamics. We also wonder why there has there been so limited coverage, almost an exclusion of disability studies, from educational leadership and leadership preparation. We are also pursuing authors who consider some of the challenges to contributions of these multiple considerations of ability and disability on research in educational leadership including critique of scientific epistemology in areas such as PBIS/RTI-f/MTSS and implementation science.

Section 4: Narratives - Personal Perspectives on the Field

In thinking about this volume, the editors talked with many of their colleagues at schools, in departments and colleges, and at professional meetings. We would profoundly impacted by the power of these conversations with our colleagues, who brought their own personal experiences to the discussion of disabilities and the multiple ways in which disability shaped their experiences in schools. Sometimes, these perspectives involved their own experiences in schools and some of the challenges that our colleagues have faced. Other times, these conversations involved stories of parents talking about their children and how they negotiated their children’s experiences in schools as well as their own experiences in academia.

We anticipate that the contributions to this 2nd Section of the book will be more personal and based on the first-hand experiences of the authors. We anticipate that these contributors will bring not only their academic training but also their personal experiences to the forefront. And, as others have pointed out, scratch a theory and one will inevitably find a personal narrative behind the research. It is our hope that this 2nd section of the book will provide an opportunity to explore and better understand how these personal perspectives can be used to shape our understanding of disabilities and how disabilities are experienced at home, in school, and in the workplace. These contributions could be shorter than the more traditionally academic discussions in section 1. They could either stand alone, or be used to illustrate concepts represented in particular chapters.

Section 5: Moving Forward – Education Efforts Ongoing and On the Way

We have listed several questions that we hope our potential contributors will answer.

1. How might we build theory in Educational Administration through research on institutional normalization of ability as a central organizing concept in school governance?

2. Drawing on the tenets of critical disability studies, how might we best challenge marginalizing practices associated with disability and special education?

3. How do school administrators best learn to work with differently abled students and their families?

4. What purposeful programs are available for school leaders that provide opportunities to engage with students often identified for special education?

5. What are the implications of the legal and policy architecture around special education, disability studies, and personal perspectives from the field for the preparation of future school administrators and professional development of current teachers and administrators?

6. What are generative pathways for future scholarship on disability studies for education leaders?

Submission Procedures

Potential contributors are invited to submit a proposed 1-3 page proposal clearly explaining their chapter and how it might relate to one of the proposed sections of the volume. Please send your chapter proposal to all editors by February 15, 2020, using the email addresses provided in this call.

Full chapters, ranging from 7,000 to 12,000 words each including title, abstract, manuscript, and references, should be submitted by June 1, 2020; manuscripts should be double spaced and use APA style headings, citations, and references.

Narrative contributions/chapters should range from 3,000 to 7,000 words, also using APA style.

Proposed Timeline for Volume 1: Who Decides? Power, Disability, and Educational Administration

February 15, 2020: 1-3 Page Chapter Proposal Due to Editors
April 1, 2020: Submission Acceptance/Rejection Sent to Contributors
August 1, 2020: Draft Chapter to Editors & Nominated Reviewers for Initial Feedback
September 1, 2020: First Round Review Returned to Authors by Editors & Reviewers
October 15, 2020: Revised Full Chapters Submitted by Authors to Editors
November 15, 2020: Second Round of Editor Reviews Sent to Authors
December 15, 2020: Revised, Final Chapters Submitted by Authors to Editors
January 30, 2021: Final Editing and Compilation of Book by Editors Submitted to IAP

Proposed Timeline for Volume 2: Who Decides? Power, Disability, and Educational Administration: Narratives on Disability at Home, in School, and in the Workplace

February 15, 2020: 1-3 Page Chapter Proposal Due to Editors
April 1, 2020: Submission Acceptance/Rejection Sent to Contributors
December 1, 2020: Draft Chapter to Editors & Nominated Reviewers for Initial Feedback
January 2, 2021: First Round Review Returned to Authors by Editors & Reviewers
February 15, 2021: Revised Full Chapters Submitted by Authors to Editors
March 15, 2021: Second Round of Editor Reviews Sent to Authors
April 15, 2021: Revised, Final Chapters Submitted by Authors to Editors
May 31, 2021: Final Editing and Compilation of Book by Editors Submitted to IAP

Please direct all questions and inquiries, as well as submit your 1-3 page proposal to all three co-editors:;;