System of Disability


  • Aydin Bal University of Wisconsin-Madison



Racial Disproportionality, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, Formative Intervention, Expansive Learning, Systemic Transformation, Collective Mapping


The present article examines an enduring educational inequality- nondominant students’ disproportionate representation in special education programs. From a Marxist historical materialist perspective, racial disproportionality forms a systemic tension that offers a significant opportunity to deeply examine and transform school systems. I first provide a social-historical-spatial examination of racial disproportionality and disability classification process. Then, I detail how formative intervention, an activity theory-based systemic intervention model, can be instrumental in capacity building in local schools to examine and intervene racial disproportionality. The formative intervention methodology that I present in this article aims to re-mediate complex ecologies of school systems by transforming exclusionary processes with local stakeholders who reproduce and are negatively affected by those unjust processes and outcomes.


Author Biography

Aydin Bal, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Aydin Bal is an assistant professor of special education at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.  Dr. Bal examines racialization of disability and systemic transformation.  His recent research projects focus on developing culturally responsive research methodologies for examining and intervening the marginalization of nondominant communities in education systems.