Term of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

John Weaver

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Chelda Kondo Smith

Committee Member 3 Email



This is an inquiry into the counterstories of two Black special education teachers teaching Black elementary students with special needs in Georgia. Theoretically building upon culturally responsive (Gay, 2000/2010, 2002), relevant (Ladson-Billings, 1994/2009, 2014), and sustaining (Paris, 2012; Paris & Alim 2017) pedagogy; warm demanders (Kleinfeld, 1989; also Irvine & Fraser, 1998); and Disability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) (e.g., Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013, 2018; Baglieri, 2016), I examine the challenges of intersectionality on Black students with special needs. I also explore the use of warm demanders as a teacher strategy for supporting the learning of Black students with special needs. Methodologically building on critical race narrative (Gutiérrez-Jones’, 2001), particularly counterstories (Delgado, 1989; Solórzano & Yosso, 2002; Yosso, 2006; also, He & Ross, 2012; He, Ross, & Seay, 2015; Delgado & Stefancic, 2017), I explore the often silenced stories of two Black special education teachers, Tameka and myself, to highlight our values for, and contributions to, educating Black students with special needs. Three major findings have emerged from my dissertation study: (1) Counterstories told by Black special education teachers about Black elementary students with special needs counter the majoritarian narratives which portray them as unmotivated underachievers who are inferior to peers and incapable of learning; (2) There is a demand for all teachers to have culturally responsive/relevant/sustaining pedagogy training in order to raise their critical sociopolitical consciousness, develop their cultural competences, and validate their students’ funds of knowledge (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) of their own and their students in order to combat and diminish inequitable social practices perpetuated by the master narrative which sanctions Black students with special needs as a burden to schools and societies; and (3) There is a need to develop a culturally responsive/relevant/sustaining pedagogy for Black students with special needs where teachers, students, parents, staff, administrators, and policy makers work together to provide adequate resources to mitigate the challenges Black students confront and create equal opportunities for all to reach their highest potential (Siddle Walker, 1996).

Research Data and Supplementary Material