We envision an education system where every student thrives in a learning-friendly environment where they feel safe, supported, and challenged. The following legislative priorities will help to ensure access and equity:
The disruption to learning that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified long-standing barriers for students with disabilities in accessing their education. Students have lost learning time and have experienced regression due to lack of access to instruction and services. Washington must take meaningful steps to address learning and developmental loss experienced by students during remote learning and affirm their right to access their education.
2021 Action Priorities:
- Ensure all students with IEPs have access to recovery and/or compensatory education as soon as possible to begin to address learning loss and developmental setbacks.
- Extend the age eligibility for students accessing transitional education services to account for disruption.
- Dismantle the digital divide. Ensure families and staff have access to sufficient and reliable internet or appropriate work-around; training to support online learning; and ready access to necessary devices.
Create supportive and thriving school environments
Young people are Washington state’s greatest asset and yet our education system was not designed to meet the needs of all students. We must build coordinated and responsive systems that promote belonging, dismantle racism and ableism, and support every student in reaching their human potential.
2021 Action Priorities:
- Resource schools to meet students’ needs and dismantle barriers so every student can fully access their education.
- Ensure families have access to qualified interpreters in their home language and translated materials to enable meaningful family engagement and two-way communication with school staff.
- Develop robust technical assistance to implement multi-tiered systems of support and practice inclusive and trauma-informed teaching.
- Increase technical assistance and implementation support for the provision of Universal Design for Learning in all classrooms and schools to remove barriers to learning.
- Increase technical assistance, professional development, and coaching on accessibility. Topics should include Universal Design for Learning, accessibility of learning environments, culturally-responsive practices, communication strategies, education materials, curriculum, and extracurricular activities.
Support Students and Families
Students who are marginalized and who do not get the supports they require may end up pushed into institutional or alternative settings such as group homes and juvenile detention. We must continue to support students with disabilities in whatever learning setting they are in, and ensure they are able to access a basic education while continuing the work to dismantle racial bias and ableism in the general education setting.
2021 Action Priority:
- Ensure justice-involved youth have access to the educational services identified in their IEPs.