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special education, cultural reciprocity, Culture, Values, Disability, Charter Schools


The issue of segregation of students with disabilities across cultural groups
is a function of cultural values demonstrated by charter schools and the
resulting dissonance between these values and those demonstrated by
families. Lack of understanding about school culture and diverse family
value systems can lead to varying family responses to the school culture,
including assimilation, integration, separation, and marginalization.
Assuming a posture of cultural reciprocity is suggested as a means for education professionals in charter schools to more effectively understand families of children with disabilities. This four-step process includes (a) identifying the education professional’s interpretation of family and child
needs; (b) determining the degree to which the family values these assumptions and how the family’s perceptions may be different; (c) acknowledging and respecting differences identified, and explaining the basis for professional assumptions; and (d) determining how to adapt professional interpretations or recommendations to the family’s value system.


Originally published in Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal (Volume 3, Issue 1)