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Giving Compass' Take:
• Families and parents are excellent resources for students with disabilities and are consistently the best advocates for their children with special needs.
• Research has shown that with the right support, 90 percent of students with disabilities can meet the same achievement standards as their peers. How can schools create partnerships with parents to provide supportive and encouraging environments?
• Read philanthropy's investment into charter schools serving students with disabilities.
When it comes to living up to their obligation to serve students with disabilities, public charter schools face a host of challenges. In addition to the perennial headache of underfunding, there are bureaucratic constraints, a woeful lack of teacher preparation in special education and difficulty finding and tapping expertise.
None of which comes as a surprise to parents of children with disabilities, who, like it or not, get a crash course on navigating the same series of hurdles — sometimes while advocating for their kids in the same charter schools that are struggling to figure out how best to serve them.
After program officers at the Walton Family Foundation realized they were hearing essentially the same story in one community after another, they commissioned the education consulting firm Public Impact to examine possible synergies between the two groups. The result: Better Together: Why Charter School Champions and Parent Advocates Should Partner to Better Support Students with Disabilities.
The research and findings will be the topic of a panel to be held at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ annual conference, which takes place June 30 to July 3. Daniela Doyle, Public Impact’s vice president for charter excellence, will be one of the speakers.
Her top-line message: Organizations that advocate for charter schools in states and cities should tap parents — who often already are organized, formally or informally — to help craft solutions and advocate for better policies.
Parents, the report notes, have a long history of successful advocacy for children with special needs. Research shows that with the right support, 90 percent of students with disabilities can meet the same achievement standards as their peers. Yet nationwide, just 8 percent score at or above grade level in math and reading. Charter schools, while theoretically ideally positioned to find innovative strategies to enable that level of achievement, have a decidedly mixed record when it comes to embracing the challenge.
Read the full article about improving special education in charter schools by Beth Hawkins at The 74.