Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Beth Ferri


Black Students, Brown Students, Inclusive Education, Pre-service Teachers, Teacher Education, Textbooks

Subject Categories

Education | Special Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


Textbooks are heavily used in the United States and throughout the world as a medium between students and fields of knowledge. In the field of education, textbooks are a primary source through which pre-service teachers gain expert knowledge and develop their professional stature. Inclusive education textbooks used in introductory courses have a particular significance in that they help to shape the pre-service teacher’s understanding of the field by providing access to information and ideas at a time when prospective teachers are beginning to formulate their pedagogical and philosophical beliefs. The purpose of this study was to analyze engagement with race and ethnicity within inclusive education textbooks.

Drawing on qualitative content and discourse analysis, in this study I analyze how inclusive education textbook authors incorporate critical perspectives of race and ethnicity into their presentation of topics. Specifically, I identify the symbolic forms, meanings, and mechanisms by which race and ethnicity are presented to pre-service teachers. Further, I illuminate the ways in which the voices, experiences, and realities of Black and Brown people with disabilities are included and excluded in inclusive education. Finally, I highlight the ways in which the field addresses and ignores the intersections of disability and race in the presentation of ideas to pre-service teachers.

The findings of my research indicate that whiteness remains as the center of inclusive education textbooks and textbook authors present their content in ways that further reinforce whiteness, rather than disrupting it. Textbook authors frame white American middle-and-upper-class ideals as the criteria for success in U.S. education, suggesting that Black and Brown students require assimilation and remediation in order to be successful. Students and families who cannot claim the normative ideals of white American middle-and-upper-class families are framed as deviant and deficient. Lastly, textbook authors reinforce dominant ideology around heteronormativity and patriarchy. There is little meaningful engagement with intersectionality in inclusive education textbooks and authors generally leave their readers to presume a white universal experience with disability, further marginalizing Black and Brown students with disabilities.

There remains a need to better equip teacher candidates with effective, culturally responsive, and antiracist inclusive education approaches that prepare them to meet the needs of Black and Brown students with disabilities in U.S. schools and resist a deficit framing of Black and Brown students. Pedagogical approaches that address and affirm the experiences of disabled and nondisabled Black and Brown students are not sufficiently attended to in the inclusive education textbooks I examined for this study, instead the textbooks reinforced deficit framings of Black and Brown students and their families. I conclude this study with implications and recommendations for teacher preparation directed to teacher educators, textbook authors, and researchers.


Open Access