The Experience of High School Students with Emotional and Behavioral Impairments: A Critical Look Back Upon Alternative Educational Placements - Barbara Ackermann, Ed.D., Alumna, School of Educational Leadership & Change (2012)
Young people with emotional and behavioral impairments—known as emotionally disturbed (ED) in the United States public K-12 educational system—are generally not allowed a voice on their own behalf. Because they are young, and because they have problems, their experiences, knowledge, and opinions are discounted by the adult “experts” in education and mental health. This narrative inquiry turns this power relationship on its head. It gives voice to five former high school students with emotional and behavioral impairments.
They retraced the sequence of events that culminated in their transfer to non-public school. They explored whether and how the alternative school placement supported their academic success and personal development. And finally—standing firmly in a place of personal knowledge and expertise—they explained to educators and mental health professionals how they might help other young people more effectively.
The findings addressed the need for more holistic teacher education and for high expectations for academics and behavior. More importantly, however, all research participants identified the relationship with authentic adults as the key ingredient of a positive educational experience.