In Better Together: Why Charter School Champions and Parent Advocates Should Partner to Better Support Students with Disabilities, Public Impact issues a call to action for charter champions—including charter associations, city-based education organizations and other reform organizations that see charters as an integral piece of a thriving system of public schools—to form and deepen partnerships with parent advocates to expand access to more quality educational options for students with disabilities.
See coverage of this report in a new article in The 74: Parent Power: To Improve Special Education in Charter Schools Tap Students’ Original Advocates — Their Families — Report Says
The report, which highlights examples from around the country, shows how charter schools, their champions, and parents can innovate to achieve stronger outcomes for students with disabilities through more effective collective advocacy, access to quality school options and equitable policies. The Public Impact policy team explains why such partnerships are needed, what forms they might take and how to get started.
“Serving students with special needs really well at scale requires a deep understanding of the challenges those students face and an ability to push change at a systems level. Parents bring the former, while charter champions offer the latter. Working together, there’s an opportunity to make real progress,” said co-author Daniela Doyle, vice president for policy and management research at Public Impact.
About 13 percent of U.S. students receive special education services. Research shows that as many as 90 percent of students with disabilities can meet the same achievement standards as other students—with the right accommodations and support.
Charter school champions are poised to address the needs of students with disabilities as a central objective of charter advocacy—quality school options for all. And parent groups have decades of experience advocating for students with disabilities and bring student and family perspectives to policy discussions. Both charter champions and parents of students with disabilities stand to gain more by working together than alone.
Greater collaboration between charter supporters and parent groups representing students with disabilities can lead to innovations and improvements in all levels of education. But first, those partnerships must take shape. Charter champions can take the following five steps to start the process and drive collective action toward improved student outcomes, better school options, and equitable policies.
- Set ambitious goals for “quality school options for all.”
- Consider gaps in your work.
- Identify the parent organizations already working on behalf of students with disabilities in your area.
- Look for opportunities to connect.
- Partner more deeply.
Striving for innovation and equity, these groups can accomplish more together than they can alone — they are better together.