Resources for Education Advocacy

January, 2018

The authors of a study titled “The Advocacy Experiences of Parents of 2e children,” (Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol 59, No 2, April 2015), found that “For many parents, successfully advocating for their twice-exceptional child can be intimidating and overwhelming….Only after parents acquired professional knowledge about educational terminology and official policies, were they able to become successful advocates.” With these findings in mind, we offer some resources that can help parents, as well as others who work with and care for 2e children, feel better informed and better prepared to advocate for them.

COPAA

COPAA (www.copaa.org.) is short for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. According to its website, this national, independent, nonprofit organization was founded on the premise that every child has the right to high-quality education and an equal opportunity to achieve his or her full academic potential. The stated mission of the organization is:

To protect and enforce the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families.Our primary goal is to secure high quality educational services and to promote excellence in advocacy

In fulfilling that mission, COPAA does the following:

  • Provides opportunities for members to network and share resources
  • Maintains a website directory of advocates, attorneys, and related professionals
  • Provides professional training for attorneys on legal practice
  • Offers education on special education advocacy and conflict resolution through webinars, an annual conference, attorney online training, and a training program for special education advocates (described as “the only nationally developed and recognized year-long course that provides participants with training to become a special education advocate”).

In addition, COPAA takes an active role in advocacy by filing friend-of-the-court briefs in what they describe as “cases of national significance” and engages in lobbying efforts at both national and local levels of government. The focus in these efforts is upholding the rights of students who are eligible for special education services and supports under federal laws (e.g., IDEA, Section 504, and ADA) and under state disability-related laws that affect a student’s education.

The organization’s over 2,000 members include attorneys, advocates, and related professionals along with special education family members. Annual membership fees vary, depending on the type of membership. Parents and students pay lower fees than attorney and advocate members, and military parents pay the least. COPAA offers free guest accounts that provide access to the COPAA Weekly News and Announcements as well as enable non-members to register for COPAA events, submit conference proposals, and purchase items from the COPAA store.

Wrightslaw

On the Wrightslaw website (www.wrightslaw.com), you’ll find 20 years’ worth of special education law and advocacy information for parents, advocates, educators, and other professionals. The site is the work of two prominent advocates for special education, Peter and Pamela Wright, a husband-and-wife team. In addition to their website, the Wrights present special education advocacy training, publish books, and offer videos on advocacy and special education topics.

Peter Wright is an attorney who was drawn to special education law by his own experiences as a child with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and AD/HD. He achieved national recognition when he argued a case before the Supreme Court and won. The case concerned the right of parents to secure a private education at public expense for a learning-disabled child. The court agreed that public schools are responsible for paying the tuition if they are unable to provide an adequate educational program for children with disabilities.

Pamela Wright is a psychotherapist with a background in clinical psychology and clinical social work. Her focus has been on raising, educating, and advocating for children with disabilities.

First-time visitors to the extensive site should start with the introductory video. In it, Peter Wright provides a tour of the website and explains how to find answers to questions. Site features to look for are:

Also while you’re there, you can post questions or offer answers on the Community Help Line, a moderated Q & A forum. Plus you can read a blog, sign up for a free online newsletter, and search for resources by state in the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities.

Some Resources on the Gifted Side

As with all aspects of giftedness, Hoagies Gifted Education Page has plenty to offer on the topic of advocating for gifted children. See the extensive listing of articles, books, and websites: www.hoagiesgifted.org/ advocacy.htm.

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) has put together what they call an Advocacy Toolkit to, as the organization describes it on their website, “support individuals and groups working to improve gifted education programs and services.” This support takes the form of information for building a case to support gifted education, strategies to increase effectiveness as advocates, and ways of bringing local media attention to the needs of gifted students.

You can find out how NAGC is advocating for gifted students as an organization here: www.nagc.org/get-involved/advocate-high-ability-learners/nagc-advocacy.

The 2e Newsletter Website

If you haven’t noticed, the 2e Newsletter website (www.2enewsletter.com) now has an advocacy area. There you’ll find past articles on 2e advocacy from the newsletter along with resource listings and advocacy news items. Check back often to see what’s new.

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