Yesterday afternoon, Secretary of Education-designate Dr. Miguel Cardona joined leaders from disability organizations in the education field for a virtual roundtable discussion. Dr. Cardona thanked the leaders for their time and counsel, for their hard work during the pandemic, and said that he viewed the meeting as the beginning of an ongoing partnership.

Participants discussed issues affecting blind students, deaf students, those with speech-related disabilities, as well as higher education, in particular student loan forgiveness. Other participants expressed urgent issues that will require long-term attention, including significant disproportionality – when districts identify, place, or discipline students from any one racial or ethnic group at disproportionate rates to their peers, the school to prison pipeline, additional higher education priorities including universal design, and employment opportunities. Participants noted the disproportionate effects the pandemic has exacerbated for students with disabilities, particularly around access and equity.

Additionally, Dr. Cardona affirmed participants’ comments that we must challenge a deficit mentality, noting that all students have diverse abilities and their abilities make schools better. He himself has seen firsthand how schools with diverse populations created a culture of community.

Representatives from the following organizations, along with other individual advocates for people with disabilities, joined the Secretary-designate:

  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • Assistive Technology Act Program
  • Association of People Supporting Employment First
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities
  • Autism Society
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health
  • Center for Public Representation
  • Center for Workforce Development
  • Chinatown Disability Advocacy Project
  • CommunicationFIRST
  • Conference of Educators and Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf
  • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
  • Disabled Students’ Program University of California, Berkeley
  • Disability Justice Initiative at Center for American Progress
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Education Law Center
  • Juvenile Justice Advocate
  • Little Lobbyists
  • National Association of the Deaf
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
  • National Disabilities Rights Network
  • National Down Syndrome Congress
  • National Federation of the Blind
  • Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center
  • Parent Power
  • Public Interest Law Center
  • SPAN Parent Advocacy
  • Special Education Advocate
  • The Arc
  • The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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