In the shadow of brown: Special education and overrepresentation of students of color

Beth A. Ferri, David J. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


In this first decade of the 21st century, we mark two milestones in education history: the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 2004, and the 30th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2005, Both Brown and IDEA asserted the need for increased educational opportunities for once excluded groups of students and asserted that segregation was inherently harmful and unequal. However, although we might wish to celebrate, there is also a need to critically examine the unfulfilled promise of both these efforts toward integrated education. In this article, we focus on one of the most long-standing critiques of special education practice: the disproportionate placement of students of color in special education programs, referred to in the education literature as overrepresentation. We then trace some of the origins of the current problem of overrepresentation by tracing the tangled relationship of special education and resegregation in the first years following the Brown decision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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