To read this content please select one of the options below:

This One, Not That One: Toward Revitalizing Special Education

James M. Kauffman (University of Virginia, USA)

Revitalizing Special Education

ISBN: 978-1-80117-495-4, eISBN: 978-1-80117-494-7

Publication date: 26 September 2022


Concern about special education's future is widespread. Now there are calls for special education's abandonment or its nonexistence in any environment other than general education (i.e., for full inclusion or some form of general education only). Some advocates for reform consider special education obsolete, to be rejected in favor of newer ideas known as inclusionary education, and they advocate abandoning special education.

Now may be the time for a second revolution in thinking about what special education is and does so that it evolves into a service that more consistently realizes its promise. Special education is likely to become extinct if its devolution continues. Its collapse would hasten the abandonment of public education. Alternatively, it could evolve to become a viable part of public education, a distinct entity, a clearly identifiable and viable part of educating all children appropriately in public schools.

Among the many causes of special education's devolution, some stand out prominently: (1) confusing must and may; (2) accepting illogic and imprecision of language; (3) responding to all diversities in the same way; (4) spurning science; (5) confusing attribute and person; (6) putting the worst possible face on special education; and (7) misconstruing least restrictive environment.

Better thinking and clearer communication are required to achieve special education's revitalization. These include calling things what they are and relying on new, younger leaders. Clear and wide understanding – consensus – about what special education is and does and acceptance of the idea that we must have it as a separate and distinct part of universal public education would be revolutionary.



Kauffman, J.M. (2022), "This One, Not That One: Toward Revitalizing Special Education", Kauffman, J.M. (Ed.) Revitalizing Special Education, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-41.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 James M. Kauffman. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited