June 2020 Policy News Round Up

This June, Congress tackled reopening schools safely as advocates push for more funding and safer schools. See how NCLD worked on behalf of people with disabilities this month. 

NCLD and 13 Partner Organizations Release Recommendations for How States and Districts Can Prioritize Students Hit Hardest by Education Disruptions

NCLD worked with partners to develop a set of recommendations to guide how funding can prioritize equity in the state and district response to COVID-19. We agreed that:

  • “Our most vulnerable students—like those from low-income backgrounds, students experiencing homelessness, immigrant students without comprehensive access to our social safety net, and all students who have been historically underserved—have been hit first and hardest by the disruptions. Without an intense and intentional focus on equity, they also will be the last to recover academically, socially, and emotionally.” 
  • “As resources grow scarce, and likely become scarcer, we must target funds and supports to our most vulnerable students. We must design emergency response and recovery programs that prioritize these students from the beginning, rather than include them as an afterthought.”

Read the full set of recommendations here.

NEW: NCLD Parent Advocacy Toolkit to Help Students With Learning and Attention Issues During COVID-19

Based on the recommendations (above) developed by NCLD and partners, NCLD created a toolkit to help parents advocate for equity as school districts develop reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year. This toolkit can help advocates speak up for students with learning and attention issues during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Using these recommendations, advocates can encourage decision makers in their state and school district to use funding and resources in ways that will address the needs of students with disabilities. Download the full toolkit here.  

How the Federal Government is Responding to the the School Funding Crisis

The Council of Chief State School Officers, an organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee estimating how much reopening schools would cost.

The organization estimates that states will need between $158.1 billion and $244.6 billion in total additional funding to reopen school buildings safely and serve all students in the next academic year. While the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this month that would provide $58 billion in funding for public schools, the Senate has yet to take action. Although, the Senate Republicans are warming to the idea of providing additional funding. 

U.S. House of Representatives Committee Discusses Reopening Schools 

The House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing to discuss COVID-19 reopening procedures and their relationship to racial inequalities. Testimonies, especially that of former Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr. (now President and CEO of the Education Trust), highlighted policy options that could prevent reentry procedures from exacerbating existing educational inequities. Dr. King stressed that “students are going to come back to school having lost as much as 70% of the ground of the school year in math; 30% or more in reading, and the way that we address that is to provide additional instructional support, particularly critical for students with disabilities and English learners who have been without services, in many cases, since March.”

In addition, Dr. King and others pushed the Committee to consider requiring states, as a condition for receiving new federal stimulus dollars, to protect their highest need districts from cuts, and requiring districts to protect their highest need schools from cuts. Many of these districts have a high percentage of students of color and have been historically underfunded due to a variety of reasons including systemic racism. Watch the full recording of the hearing here

Growing Number of School Districts Do Away with Police Officers in Schools

In light of recent events including the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the subsequent protests, many schools have decided to cancel contracts with School Resource Officers (SROs). The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), estimates that between 14,000 and 20,000 SROs are currently in service nationwide. However, the presence of SROs is associated with more suspensions and expulsions (which we know from existing CRDC data disproportionately affect students with disabilities and students of color). Research also suggests that the presence of SROs might increase the chances that students are arrested for low-level offenses such as disorderly conduct. 

Recently, NCLD joined with other organizations in support of Civil Rights Principles for

Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive School Climates. These principles emphasize the use of supportive discipline practices and call for a prohibition on using federal funds on school police or surveillance. Read the full set of principles here.

Young Adult Leadership Council

Your Voice, Your Council.

Together we can change the future for those who learn differently.

NCLD seeks to build a movement of young leaders with learning and attention issues who are armed with the knowledge and skills to break down barriers for themselves and their peers. Our Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) harnesses the power and voices of young leaders with the shared goal to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 people with learning disabilities and attention issues (ie. dyslexia, dyscalculia, nonverbal learning disability, ADHD, specific learning disability, etc.).

The YALC is a one-year volunteer opportunity to advise NCLD on key policy issues that impact young adults, and use your voice to advocate for change. NCLD will help develop your leadership skills and policy knowledge so you can be a lifelong advocate. NCLD encourages individuals who identify as Black or African American, Native American, Latino or Hispanic, Asian, or part of the LGBTQIA community to apply. As part of our learning, we will center diversity, equity and inclusion into discussions to create a brave space for all young leaders.

Applications close on June 20, 2023.






















Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What qualities is NCLD looking for in YALC members?

A1: NCLD is looking for individuals with a learning and/or attention issue who possess these qualities:

  • Excited to learn and grow as a leader
  • Open to having tough and personal conversations
  • Offers a diversity of experiences, backgrounds, race and ethnicity
  • A desire to advocate for issues that improve the lives of students with learning and attention issues

Q2: What opportunities can YALC members expect?

A2: Young Adult Leadership Council members will:

  • Attend in-person and virtual advocacy days
  • Speak at NCLD events promoting Young Adult policy priorities
  • Create video and written content for NCLD.org
  • Advise NCLD on policy issues that impact young adults

Q3: What are learning and attention issues?

A3: Learning and attention issues are brain based difficulties in reading, writing, math, organization, focus, listening comprehension, social skills, motor skills or a combination of these. Learning and attention issues are also known as learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.) and ADHD. Others may also use the term learning differences. Many students with learning disabilities have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or a 504 Plan while in school, but that is not a requirement to join the Young Adult Leadership Council. Learn more here.

*Autism Spectrum Disorder is not considered a learning disability for the purposes of NCLD.

Q4: How do I apply?

A4: Start your application here! If you are selected to move on to the next round, you will receive an email request for an interview. Applications close July 22, 2022.

Your Voice, Your Council.

Resources & Tools: COVID-19

Parents, educators, and students continue to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis as they navigate their new normal of schooling children at home, working jobs remotely, and managing virtual education environments. 

NCLD believes that every student deserves equal access to educational opportunities. We want educators and parents to feel supported as they innovate during this school year, which is why we have provided the following resources and information that schools and districts so desperately need.

We continue to update this webpage regularly in order to be a trusted resource to our community.

Parent Resources

Parent Resources

Learn more about what you can do as a parent to support your child during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn More

Young Adult Resources

Young Adult Resources

From college transitions to workforce issues, learn how you can continue to succeed during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn More.

Educator Resources

Educator Resources

Learn more about what you can do as an educator to support students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn More

Legislative Updates

Legislative Updates

Find out the latest news from Washington, D.C.. Learn More

Gloria Avila, an Everyday Champion Parent Award Winner, has seen firsthand how the pandemic has affected students with LDs. Her daughter Kiki deals with math and reading learning differences. Gloria has supported Kiki by preparing and organizing her virtual learning schedule each day. Watch more stories like Gloria’s here.

Amazon Alexa Resources for Students with Disabilities

Amazon Alexa Resources for Students with Disabilities

In the best of times, students with learning and attention issues often struggle with managing routines, keeping track of assignments, navigating schedules, and performing other tasks that keep them on track for success. COVID-19 has made all these daily activities even harder, placing new responsibilities on students and families to get organized and stay up to speed with assignments. The Amazon Alexa Team reached out to NCLD for feedback and expertise, and we’re pleased to share these exciting new Alexa resources with you. See here!

Educating All Learners Alliance

Educating All Learners Alliance

NCLD is a proud founding partner of the newly launched Educating All Learners Alliance, a resource hub aimed at helping educators reach all students during the #COVID19 pandemic. Learn more.

Impact Update – Winter 2015

The mission of NCLD is to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 individuals nationwide with learning and attention issues. Below are highlights of our accomplishments in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Empowering Parents

  • We’ve expanded the reach of Understood through a national advertising campaign:
    • The Ad Council has helped secure donated placement of ads across the country on TV, radio and print media—including full-page ads in the New York Times!
    • We also secured several promotional video billboards in the middle of Times Square to help share this incredible resource to more parents of kids with learning and attention issues.
  • Enhanced connectivity on Understood.org: A new section called Parents Like Me gives parents the opportunity to trade tips and advice with other parents who share their interests and concerns.
  • The redesigned NCLD.org makes it even easier to find information about all of NCLD’s programs, the latest reports and studies, scholarship opportunities and more!

Advocating for Equal Rights and Opportunities

  • NCLD secured $2.5 million in Congress’s 2015 budget to be used for a National Technical Assistance Center. This money will fund an online resource center that will provide information to students with disabilities and their families to assist with the transition to higher education.
  • We received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study and make recommendations on how systems of personalized learning best serve and incorporate students with disabilities.

Transforming Our Public Schools for All Students

  • We launched the RTI-based SLD Identification Toolkit on RTINetwork.org. The Toolkit was developed in partnership with the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the Council of Administrators of Special Education. It offers evidence-based practice for identifying students as eligible for special education in the Specific Learning Disabilities category using Response to Intervention as the foundation.

Ensuring Successful Futures for Young People

  • NCLD’s Pete & Carrie Rozelle Award is our annual honor given to a public and a private school that demonstrate excellence in serving all students, including those with learning and attention issues. The 2014 winners were P.S. 200 Benson Elementary School (Brooklyn, NY) and Eagle Hill School (Greenwich, CT).
  • We completed the research phase of our Student Voices project surveying more than 1,200 young adults to gain a first-hand perspective about their journey and discover how we can support their needs as they transition from high school to college or the workplace. Look for the results on NCLD.org.

Looking Ahead
We’re committed to providing the resources and services that our community needs. Here are some of our exciting upcoming programs and goals for the first quarter of 2015.
Providing More Resources for Parents

  • We’re expanding the reach of the Understood campaign beyond traditional media (TV, print, radio) to be shown in movie theatres and lobbies across the country.
  • We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Understood, ABC / Disney and First Book. Understood will partner on the Magic of Storytelling campaign to help ensure that all children have access to books and parents have the resources to foster a passion for reading with their kids.

Increasing our Advocacy Impact

  • We’ll release recommendations that we’ve developed jointly with the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) for states that have third grade reading laws. Using Understood as a platform we’ll share our recommendations in the form of a “best practices” document for policymakers and an infographic for parents.

Providing Educators With Tools for Success

  • We’ll continue our partnerships with the Barnstable Public Schools and the Massachusetts Department of Education in Massachusetts to help fully implement a Multi-Tier System of Supports through NCLD’s Schools That Work project funded by The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. We’ll also add another school district in Massachusetts to partner with for year two of the project.

Serving Young Adults Beyond High School

  • We’re reviewing over 400 applications from high school students across the country to select the Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship Award winners for 2015. The scholarships are awarded annually to two graduating high school seniors with documented learning disabilities to support their pursuit of a four-year, two-year, or vocational post-secondary education.

RESIZE_Kaila Hatton (2014 AFT Scholar)-029

“The hardest part of my journey with LD hasn’t been the tests or even the grades. It’s been the low expectations that people have for kids who learn differently. For young kids, it’s having to constantly deal with the feeling that you’re disappointing someone because you don’t fit the mold of the ideal student…the truth is that this struggle has made me stronger. I’m ready to take on anything!”
– Kaila Hatton, 2014 Allegra Ford Thomas Scholar