As schools move online due to the coronavirus pandemic, an alliance of special education advocacy and innovation organizations is working together on a new resource hub for educators, administrators, families, and students.
Educating All Learners Alliance partners include Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools, InnovateEDU, Digital Promise, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Understood, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, and the International Society for Technology in Education.
April 8, 2020—In response to widespread school closure, a group of special education advocacy and innovation organizations has formed the Educating All Learners Alliance to support the education of students with disabilities during COVID-19. Today the Alliance launched EducatingAllLearners.org, a resource hub and online community dedicated to meeting the needs of all learners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe this uncommon alliance of partners can meet the field as it quickly responds to this disaster,” explains Erin Mote, executive director of founding partner InnovateEDU. “We’re aiming to provide necessary support and expertise for districts and states as they seek to educate all learners and ensure equity for the special education community.”
The site curates existing resources and also features case studies, best practices, and opportunities to connect with peers. A community-based effort, it supports both user submission and discussion. Partner organizations will also hold virtual “office hours” and webinars sharing their specific areas of expertise.
“This rapidly evolving crisis demands a quick response,” says Lauren Morando Rhim, co-founder and executive director of founding partner the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools. “We’re already seeing schools finding creative and innovative ways to ensure teachers and students with disabilities can engage in teaching and learning remotely—our goal is to help educators share those strategies broadly with their peers.”
“In this unprecedented moment, it’s critical that we sustain teaching and learning. We are proud to join this effort to promote equity and inclusion for all learners,” said Richard Culatta, CEO of founding partner International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects stemming from school closures and the disruption of services, and it is essential that educators and administrators consider their needs from the start of remote education. “We are all learning how to teach and support students in the post-COVID world on the fly and at a brutal pace,” says Gabrielle Schlichtmann, executive director of EdTogether and a consultant with Brooklyn Lab on this project. “My hope is that through this partnership we will be inspired and better able to learn from and with each other so we can meet the needs of all students.”
While the U.S. Department of Education has affirmed that schools are still required to provide students with disabilities a free, appropriate education during the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting special education and related services online is an unprecedented challenge. “Now more than ever, educators need help to deliver instruction and build strong relationships with their students,” says Lindsay Jones, president, and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. “We stand ready to provide that help.”
While the website officially launches Wednesday, April 8, additional partnerships are in the works and new resources, case studies, and presentations will be added continuously. Anyone can create a free account on the website to share ideas and contribute to discussions, though all posted resources will be carefully vetted by special education experts. Learn more at EducatingAllLearners.org.