Squeaky Wheels, Mothers from Hell, and CEOs of the IEP: Parents, Privilege, and the “Fight” for Inclusive Education

Priya Lalvani, Chris Hale


In this analytical essay, we examine parents’ engagement in advocacy for inclusive education as a site wherein the constructed meanings of disability and parenting a child with a disability are mutually negotiated within ableist discourses and practices in schools. Through a review of literature on parents’ historical role in special education as well as current literature on their perceptions of a continuing “struggle” to access inclusive learning environments for their children, we explore why parents continue to believe that they need to “fight” for inclusive education and we raise concerns about which parents would be most equipped to takes on this “fight.”  Highlighting the extent to which some parents of children with disabilities draw on their cultural and economic capital to negotiate their children’s educational rights, we problematize a special education system in which access to inclusive education for students with disabilities is linked with socioeconomic privilege.


Inclusive education; students with disabilities; socioeconomic privilege; access to educational resources

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