Next month, school starts for many kids around the state. And as we near the start of the school year, it is a good time to catch up on all the ways you can advocate for your child and/or for children in your community.
K-12 Education Advocacy
In the K-12 age range, it can be particularly difficult to figure out where to turn with a concern. Decisions about schools are made at every level of government: local school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, the Arkansas Department of Education, the state board of education, the state legislature, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Education. That is a lot to navigate!
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families Education Policy Director Olivia Gardner gave a short, virtual presentation, that you can watch here, on what decisions get made where and ways you can advocate at every level of your school and the government.
Advocating for your child and their Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) ensures that children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The process of developing an individualized education plan (IEP) can be an intimidating process for families. Last year we recorded this workshop that provides an overview of the IEP process to empower families to be effective advocates for their children.
Early Childhood Education
We know that our early childhood workforce is facing a great deal of challenges right now and that those challenges trickle down to the children and families they serve. The Kids Count Coalition recently hosted a virtual forum for parents, educators, and advocates in the field to share experiences and talk about what we can be doing better. In the forum people talked about their concerns connected to a lack of available child care slots, difficulty recruiting teachers, the ongoing impact of the pandemic, and more.
There will be important opportunities to advocate for early childhood education coming up. We hope that you’ll join us so that we can work toward building an early childhood education system that works for everyone in Arkansas. Stay tuned for information on those advocacy opportunities.
Now let’s go advocate for our state’s kids!