African American mothers of children with disabilities: parental advocacy within rural special education

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Summer Lynn Gainey Stanley (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Mary Compton

Abstract: Studies on parent involvement in education have most often been gender-neutral, although it is primarily mothers who undertake such work (Reay, 1998; West & Noden, 1998). While African American mothers advocating for their children's educational needs is not a new occurrence, it is one that has yet to receive the attention it necessitates. Mothering work in support of children's education is rarely explored, while qualitative studies that focus specifically on African American mothers' of children with disabilities, and the decisions they make on behalf of their children, are a rarity. And, while special education research has examined varied experiences of parents, there is an obvious gap in examining specific diverse populations within the context of special education. The purpose of this research is to critically examine the overlap of race, class, and gender in parental special education advocacy, combining social and cultural capital theories with a framework Collins (1994) and Cooper (2007) describe as `motherwork' to provide an understanding, from a strengths-based perspective, of the experiences and meanings African American mothers make of their interactions within the special education setting as they attempt to elicit their voices in the decision-making for their children. The findings will add to the research on parent involvement in special education settings, examine the experiences of African American mothers of children with disabilities in an effort to counteract educators' sometimes negative perceptions of parents as adversarial, dysfunctional (Powell, Hecimovic, & Christenson, 1993, as cited in Spann, Kohler, & Soenksen, 2003; Rosin, 1996, as cited in Spann et al., 2003; Salisbury & Dunst, 1997, as cited in Spann et al., 2003) or untrustworthy sources of information (Gilliam & Coleman, 1981, as cited in Spann et al., 2003; McAfee & Vergason, 1979, as cited in Spann et al., 2003), and provide a perspective that will enable educators and policymakers to focus on the strengths of rural African American mothers while understanding some of the barriers they face.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
African American mothers, Children with disabilities, Parental advocacy, School administration, Social work, Special education
African American mothers
Mothers of children with disabilities
Children with disabilities $x Education $z North Carolina
Education, Rural $z North Carolina

Email this document to