Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Education for Social Justice

Dissertation Committee

Reyes L. Quezada, EdD, Chair; Cecilia A. Valenzuela, PhD, Member; Jorge A. Ramírez Delgado, EdD, Member


Postsecondary Transition, Humanizing Pedagogy, At-Promise Youth, Special Education, Students with Disabilities


Postsecondary transition can be difficult for At-Promise Youth Receiving Special Education Services (APYRSES). Special educators supporting postsecondary transition often manifest traditional and institutionalized forms of oppressive education while dismissing collective values and beliefs.

This qualitative case study examined the beliefs and attitudes shared by three special education teachers after being introduced to a justice-focused, humanizing intervention to facilitate postsecondary transition for APYRSES. The conceptualized intervention was grounded in liberatory educational frameworks and drew from critical, culturally affirming, sustaining, and humanizing theories that foster cultural reciprocity, self-determination skills, and antiracist social–emotional justice learning to afford opportunities for APYRSES to succeed. The study addressed the urgent need in educational research to recognize and challenge societal inequitable power imbalances between dominant and subordinate identities in the U.S. educational system. The study also acknowledged historical systemic inequities that have maintained status quo and strove to challenge the dominant narrative by highlighting the critical role of special educators in dismantling oppressive systems.

The findings revealed special education teachers’ approaches to postsecondary transition were mechanical in nature, and shaped by convergent thinking and application with the Eurocentric value of independence at the core of their practices. Findings also revealed the exploitation of APYRSES for exclusionary discipline practices. After participating in a humanizing intervention, findings reflected edification in participants’ critical perspectives that rupture the compliance-based practices upholding the dominant hegemony, allowing for a closer examination that builds on educators’ critical understanding of practice as to move toward more equity for diversity.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Learning and Teaching

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a CC BY License.