Disability Rights Nebraska

Disability Rights Nebraska Receives Funding for Inclusive Education Institute

We are pleased to announce that Disability Rights Nebraska has received funding from several private sources to produce the 2016 Inclusive Education Advocacy Institute. A major underwriting grant from the Woods Charitable Fund ($20,000) will support the body of the Institute. A grant from the Nebraska Developmental Disabilities Planning Council ($9,930) will enable us to expand the reach of the Institute to participants from across the state, and funding from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Nebraska ($4,000) will allow us to create a video documentary of the Institute that can be re-broadcast. In addition, in-kind donations from our partners at Nebraska Wesleyan University have provided locations and logistics support for the event.

The Inclusive Education Advocacy Institute will focus on children with developmental disabilities in pre-school, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. The Institute will be held on June 24 & 25, 2016 at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. The Institute will feature parents, teachers and administrators discussing how inclusion benefits students with disabilities as well as the entire student population.

The event will be based around four plenary sessions: What is Inclusive Education; Why Inclusive Education is Important; Barriers to Inclusive Education; and, Examples of Successful Pre-Secondary Inclusive Education Practices. In addition to the plenary sessions the presenters will facilitate strategy breakout sessions with the participants to develop inclusive education advocacy plans to implement in their own schools.

Disability Rights Nebraska works to create systemic change in the way society responds and supports Nebraskans with disabilities. During the course of the past several years we have begun to focus on inclusive education in Nebraska’s schools. Kathleen Whitbread, Ph.D., states "We conclude that in the field of education, the doctrine “separate and equal” has no place. These same arguments, originally applied to race, have been repeated on behalf of children with disabilities." Benefits for students with disabilities in inclusive education include friendships; role models; access to the general curriculum; enhanced skills; future inclusion; varied interactions; higher expectations; and increased staff collaboration and parent participation. Benefits for students without disabilities include friendships; appreciation of diversity; respect for all people; preparation for an inclusive adult life; opportunities to teach; and academic outcomes. The Institute will allow for the development of an inclusive education advocacy capacity in the Lincoln/Lancaster County area that can serve as a model for the whole state.

After the Institute, Disability Rights Nebraska will contact attendees to ask their assistance in developing a new lay advocacy program titled Pathfinders: Authentic Inclusive Education for All Students. This program is modeled after endeavors in Pennsylvania and Georgia in which volunteers are recruited, trained, and supported to advocate on behalf of students and their parents for a fully inclusive education. Institutes focusing on secondary and post-secondary education are planned for 2018 and 2020, respectively.

For questions or information contact John Murphy john@drne.org or Jennifer Monjaras jennifer@drne.org at Disability Rights Nebraska or call 1-800-422-6691 (outside Lincoln) or (402) 474-3183 (in Lincoln).