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Barriers to inclusion : special education in the United States and Germany

by Justin J W Powell

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Summary & Endorsements   (2011-02-27)


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by justinpowell

Barriers to Inclusion provides an in-depth comparative and historical account of the rise of special education over the twentieth century in the United States and Germany. This institutional analysis demonstrates how professional groups, social movements, and education and social policies shaped the schooling of children and youth with disabilities. It traces continuity and change in special education classification and categorical boundaries, explores the growth of special education organizations, and examines students’ learning opportunities and educational attainments. Highlighting cross-national differences over time, this book also investigates demographic and geographic variability within the federal democracies, especially in segregation and inclusion rates of disabled and disadvantaged children. Germany’s elaborate system of segregated special school types contrasts with diverse American special education
classrooms mainly within regular schools. Joining historical case studies with empirical indicators, this book reveals persistent barriers to school integration as well as factors that facilitate inclusive education reform in both societies.

By offering an astute comparison of special education systems in the United States and Germany, Barriers to Inclusion provides invaluable tools for understanding what educators on both sides of the Atlantic take for granted. Justin Powell gives us a meticulously researched and clearly argued account ever mindful of the major historical forces at work in both countries. The book suggests new ways to appraise mainstream approaches to education for all students, while raising broader questions about ideas of citizenship in two distinct socio-political contexts.
—Catherine Kudlick, University of California, Davis

Justin Powell’s book compares German special education, hyper-organized but segregatory, with chaotic but more inclusionary American arrangements. The work is highly informed, with a strong historical perspective. It creatively explains the different national trajectories in terms of political, professional, cultural, and organizational arrangements. It will be of great interest to those concerned with special education, but also to sociologists of education, and students of comparative education more generally.

—John W. Meyer, Stanford University

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