Hughes: New $10 Million Grant Program

Author:
Bob Hughes
Article

Ben Marcovitz is on a mission. Like many other parents of students with disabilities across the country, he is fighting to ensure that his young daughter Zoe gets the best education possible.

Zoe has developmental delays, and Ben and his wife, Meredith, have committed themselves to finding a school that would nurture Zoe’s love of learning. Yet, as the founder and CEO of Collegiate Academies, five public charter high schools in Louisiana, Ben felt increasingly frustrated. In visit after visit, he was told the school did not offer the kind of programming Zoe needed. Ben’s experience has fueled his passion to ensure that more charter schools serve students with disabilities. His question: “How do we make it wonderful for schools to serve all kids, and not just admirable?"

It’s a challenge shared by many: 1 in 5 children in the U.S. has learning and attention issues, and the statistics paint a sobering picture — only 20 percent of students with disabilities nationally score at proficient levels on state assessments. Further, on average, fewer than 70 percent earn a high school diploma within four years, compared with 85 percent for all students. Add to that the compounding effect that race and class have on the experience of students in special education, and it’s clear that our education system is in crisis.

This week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is announcing an investment of more than $10 million to launch the Charter Students with Disabilities Pilot Community, a cohort of 10 charter management organizations that will work together with the common aim of improving the systems, learning experiences and outcomes for their middle and high school students with mild and moderate disabilities.

 

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