The Fallacy of Choice: The Story of Nelly


  • Maggie Bartlett University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee




Through the lenses of a narrative study, assumptions of school choice and inclusion are interrogated as a mother of a child with significant multiple disabilities and complex medical needs traverses the educational landscape. In search of the best school environment for her daughter, this mother’s decisions were led by notions of safety for her daughter and fear of what may happen in its absence. Mediating factors that drove the mother’s decisions were the health of her daughter, peers in school, and the quality of professionals/caregivers. Throughout this narrative, it becomes evident that the mother’s options of schools are limited and level of inclusion of children with disabilities is low. Faced with two options, between a public and choice school, the mother decides the choice school is the best fit. This study questions the assumptions that school choice programs offer good options for children with disabilities and inclusion is always desirable.

Author Biography

Maggie Bartlett, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Exceptional Education Department

Assistant Professor


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