2016 Special Education Legislative Summit

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The making of an advocate

This week, more than 200 professionals came to the 2016 Special Education Legislative Summit as special educators.

They went home as special education advocates.

How did they do it?

First, they absorbed several days’ worth of knowledge about nine critical issues facing special education.

Then, they received advocacy training, advice, and recommendations from some of the most experienced education advocacy professionals in the field.

Finally, they poured their hearts and souls into their Capitol Hill Day meetings—sharing success stories, making the case for more funding for services and research, and ensuring that their elected officials understood that investing in special education, gifted education, and early intervention pays off in successful students who have developmental and school readiness skills and are college- and career-ready.

The numbers from this year’s Legislative Summit say it all:  more than 200 advocates from 43 state teams had discussions with more than 150 elected officials. Their work this week represents the largest and most comprehensive Capitol Hill Day in CEC’s history!

Thanks to these dedicated CEC advocates—many of whom were nursing blistered feet from traipsing all over Capitol Hill and enduring Washington’s legendary heat and humidity—the collective voice of special education, gifted education, and early intervention was heard loud and clear in the halls of Congress.

The Summit ended with closing remarks from CEC Executive Director Alex Graham, who shared with Summit attendees some planned enhancements to CEC’s advocacy efforts, including:

  • Using the Congressional cycle to set CEC’s advocacy agenda and create a tiered and highly prioritized agenda of issues.
  • Redoubling CEC’s efforts to build relationships with new Congressional champions of special education—a non-partisan issue—on both sides of the aisle.
  • Adding additional support to help CEC’s state units coordinate their advocacy efforts and manage state-level issues.

The best way to understand the advocacy that took place on behalf of all CEC members and the students they serve this week is to view photos of Summit highlights below.

Learn more about the 2016 Special Education Legislative Summit events.

Summit Highlights