"Set free" without stereotypes and prejudices: Multiple perspectives on facilitating elementary inclusion for graduates of an inclusive preschool

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Douglas P. Biklen


Inclusion, Stereotypes, Prejudices, Elementary inclusion, Preschool

Subject Categories

Disability and Equity in Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education | Special Education and Teaching


This study investigates the social construction of children with autism and other developmental disabilities as they graduate from Liberare, an inclusive preschool, and enter the American public school system. It explores how these students and their families understand and negotiate the transition of leaving a familiar service program and adopt a new educational system. What opportunities are afforded for continued inclusive programming? How do the public school personnel conceptualize the students' disabilities and their Individualized Educational Programs (I.D.E.A. 97, also known as P.L. 105-17)? And, how do the signifiers of race, culture, and social class interact with disability in the understandings and actions of public school personnel?

Qualitative methodology guides this study, including participant observations in the public school classrooms, and in-depth interviews with families, as well as the public school personnel. Through interpretivistic data analysis, I (the researcher) explore the social meanings and understandings related to the facilitation of elementary inclusive education. While the themes are emergent, I use my own interpretations and relevant literature to inform the analysis. The findings from the study provide insight to the Liberare School and the public school system in guiding their actions in facilitating the transition of young students with disabilities into elementary inclusive programs.


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