Serving Equity Through the Collaborative
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
By Kaci Coats
Executive Director - The Collaborative for Exceptional Education
We believe there are many charter schools statewide dedicated to ensuring the needs of exceptional learners. Increasingly, we see charter schools taking tremendous pride in the inspiring and life-changing education that they are delivering to these students.
At the same time, we are acutely aware of the many barriers that exist to serving the most diverse, most exceptional student populations. These barriers limit our students’ educational choices. A few of these obstacles, which are shared by charter and traditional schools alike, include a lack of resources, lack of expertise and training for educators, challenges with teacher recruitment and retention, as well as school and district relationships. Some hurdles specific to charter schools include district policies that limit special education enrollment numbers or level of severity, access to contracted service providers, availability of special education teachers in rural communities, and perception challenges that lead to challenges with recruiting students with disabilities.
When reviewing the current landscape of organizations that are meant to support schools in addressing these barriers, there are gaps or inconsistencies in program offerings and the level of the quality of these offerings.
The Collaborative for Exceptional Education is as committed to serving exceptional students as you are. As such, we offer resources, best practices, access to talent, and experience to work alongside you onsite to ensure that the needs of all students are optimally met. In our first year, we are working to create offerings and services that include:
○ A pairing of onsite teacher coaching with high-quality offsite workshops that align to ensure strong implementation.
○ Targeted support for special education teachers in their first year as a case manager.
○ Liaison services that promote strong collaboration and communication between districts and schools.
○ A space for traditional school staff and charter school staff to learn from each other and collaborate on projects to promote best practices in special education.
Through this approach, the Collaborative hopes to ensure that schools have access to the training, resources, and policies they need to serve the students that choose to enroll at their schools. We want to equip all schools to serve students with exceptional needs so that there is equal access to great schools for all learners statewide. The goal is simple – that ALL students no matter their needs have access to a high-quality public education.
“The key to effective education for students with disabilities is, above all, an institution-wide commitment. We found charter schools that have made that commitment. But more should.” Lake & Gross, 2019