Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

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


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Robert Lake

Committee Member 1

Lorraine Gilpin

Committee Member 2

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 3

Wynnetta Scott-Simmons

Committee Member 3 Email



his dissertation examined a marginalized population of African American males who have defied labeling and placement into Special Education programs by productivity in adulthood. A Critical race theoretical framework was utilized and the writings of CRT theorists guided this research study (Bell, 1980; Delgado, 2009, 1988; Delpit, 1995; Dixson,& Rousseau, 2005; Ladson-Billings, 2009; Ladson-Billings &Tate, 2006,1995; Solorzano& Yosso 2001; West, 2001, 2008. I explored the tenets of CRT to explain the disproportionate numbers of children of color who are overly assigned to these SPED programs and many times labeled in the mentally retardation or behavioral disorders categories. My research challenged the referral and placement process, especially for African American males. Regular education settings along with some special education settings across our nation now ensnare highly intelligent black boys who have been under referred or excluded from gifted programs. Numerous research studies and journal articles authenticate the disproportionality of this minority population being categorized into special education programs. American special education programs have become a “straitjacket” that restricts and confines the very existence of African American males due to the persistence of racism in the United States. The focus of this research study centered on marginalized populations of African American males who have escaped special educations’ bonds to evolve as productive citizens in United States society. Who are these atypical adult African American men who somehow survived the label assigned to them and flourished into adulthood? What support systems were in place within the lives of these African American men to challenge the educational straitjacket placed upon their lives? The following themes emerged from my interviews with three African American male research participants: A motivating mother, father, teacher, or community mentors, families who valued and education, spiritual upbringings, teachers who made a difference, educators who cared, recognition of the importance of reading, the self identification of personal academic struggles, institutionalized racism, external motivation to succeed, self determination, and an overcoming spirit. My study analyzed the counter stories of students in special education and what factors motivated them to succeed nevertheless. The field of United States education must care by reaching out to African American males and explore ways to effectively educate them.

Research Data and Supplementary Material