Oct 12
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The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools Turns Five October 2018!

This milestone has us reflecting about the progress we have made and looking forward to the opportunities ahead. In 2013−more than 20 years into the evolution of the charter sector-we launched the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools to ensure not only that students with disabilities could access charter schools, but that the schools would be prepared to help them succeed. In close collaboration with colleagues in the charter school and special education advocacy communities, we envisioned an organization devoted solely to the crossover between charter schools and special education. Our mission would be simple: to make sure that students with disabilities can fully access and thrive in charter schools.

With visionary support from the philanthropic community we launched our efforts to serve as policy advisors, researchers, coalition builders, and technicians helping a diverse network of stakeholders committed to improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Five years in, we are honored and proud to have been able to engage deeply with key national, regional, and local organizations to ensure charter schools are equipped to enroll and educate students with disabilities. At the same time, we recognize we have far to go before all students with disabilities are able to fully access and thrive in charter schools.

We are grateful for all the support we have received and look forward to your continued partnership on the path to equity for all students.


Lauren Morando Rhim, Co-founder & Executive Director  
Paul O’Neill, Co-founder & Senior Fellow

Thank You

Our work would not be possible without generous support from:

And From Our Board of Directors

  • Masheo Ashton
  • William Bethke
  • Cliff Chuang
  • Robert Garda
  • Robin Lake
  • Alex Medler
  • Jon Rosenberg
  • Retia Thukral
  • Kristin Wright

Highlights of Our Work

Pursuing Our Mission

The Center for Learner Equity pursues its mission by establishing facts, informing policy, developing coalitions, and building capacity for excellence. Below are some highlights from our first five years.

A Word From Our Partners

Developing Coalitions

Our mission – to make sure that students with disabilities can fully access and thrive in charter schools – requires partnership with CMOs, CSOs, authorizers, policymakers, philanthropists, and advocates. We asked them to share about our partnership.

“We are very fortunate to have two champions for children with disabilities leading the efforts at The Center for Learner Equity. In just five years the organization has elevated the issue of equity for children with disabilities in charter schools to a national level with its partnerships, publications and Equity Coalition. It’s been a pleasure to engage with The Center for Learner Equity in these first five years and look forward to many more.”

– Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute

“Equity Coalition has really helped me as a school leader be thoughtful about what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis and how it connects to larger issues that are happening on the state and national levels. The policy updates and priorities of the coalition has really impacted my work and really helped me to think more about how we serve students with disabilities in my school.”

– Shannon Hodge, Kingsman Academy Public Charter School

“Our partnership with The Center for Learner Equity is incredibly valuable. As a founding member of the Equity Coalition, we have deepened our commitment to the priorities of the special education advocacy community and created pathways for collaboration. We proudly support the Principles of Equitable Schools and have strengthened our model law guidance around special education by leveraging The Center for Learner Equity’ expertise.”

– Nina Rees, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

“NCSES has done a great job of keeping equity at the forefront of their work. They’ve facilitated many productive conversations among diverse stakeholders and have allowed the space for honest discussions about complex and critically important topics.”

– Meghan Whittaker, Esq., National Center for Learning Disabilities“

“NACSA is proud to partner with The Center for Learner Equity to strengthen educational programming for all students, particularly those with disabilities and/or learning exceptionalities, through high quality authorizing practices. Their thoughtful and tireless approach, as well as insights on which authorizers nationally are doing this work well, has enabled NACSA to deepen its institutional knowledge base on this subject matter and ultimately publish its most comprehensive resource on special education to date.”

– Heather Wendling, National Association of Charter School Authorizers

Get Involved

  1. Sign on to the Principles of Equitable Schools
  2. Register for our monthly newsletter
  3. Learn more about the coalitions we are building
  4. Email info@centerforlearnerequity.org to discuss how to improve special education in your state’s charter schools
  5. Send us a birthday message on social media using #The Center for Learner Equity5