Political Action

Founder

Letter From Matt Cohen

It is unusual, perhaps unprecedented, for a law firm to have a political page. But here we are. For me, it is impossible to separate being a special ed, disability rights and civil rights lawyer from being involved in policy and politics. It is no accident that the two, policy and politics, are almost spelled alike, because they are intrinsically connected. Our country will not have good policies with out good leaders. We will not have good leaders without politics. And we won’t have good politicians unless we are informed, engaged and vote for officials that embrace the values we care about. In the world of special education, it is all interconnected.

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What would special education be like if the Congress ever provided the 40% funding that they promised back in 1975 when the special education law was enacted (federal funding has never been greater than 17%).

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What would special ed be like if the Congress (as is currently being proposed by Secretary DeVos) decided to divert significant IDEA special ed dollars to parents to allow them to pay for private schools? In other words, there would be even less funding for special ed.

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What would special education, disability rights be like if the courts were populated by judges supportive of our rights?

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What would federal and state policy be like if state legislators empowered rather than restricted the ability of African-American, LatinX, people with disabilities and poor people to register and vote?

There is no way our firm can do the work we do without being mindful of the political process and how we can gain political power. In fact, we would not be doing our jobs as advocates for our clients if we did not immerse ourselves in learning the policymaking and political process and doing all we can to influence those processes towards protecting and advancing the rights of our clients. We hope you will use the information below to educate yourself about the policies that affect you, your child or family member, or your agency. As has been said painfully often, not speaking up is not being neutral. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Please join with us in sharing this information and sharing information with us so we can be as aware as possible of policy and political developments and raise our voices in support of the civil rights of all.

– Matt Cohen

Resources

Important Resources

Political Issues of importance to the special ed and disability rights community:

As the Congress is considering additional legislation to provide more financial support to the schools, the states, the unemployed and all of us in general, there is an effort being pursued by school districts with support of some Republican legislators, to pass legislation that would create immunity for school districts for failing to meet their obligations to students with disabilities. I believe that this will be a huge “free pass” for schools to allow them to cutback on both the quantity and quality of special education services for illegitimate reasons.

Please contact your Congressperson and Senators and urge them to oppose waivers of special education IDEA safeguards. You can find how to contact them below…

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DeVos demands 'fully operational' schools in the fall: 'Not a matter of if'

Federal Govt./Department of Education Pushing to Reopen Schools. This will potentially harm kids with disabilities by forcing them to come to school when they may be especially vulnerable to catching the virus due to autoimmune issues and/or have greater difficulty than other students with complying with mask and social distance rule (MC comments in italics)

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DeVos’s claim that children are ‘stoppers’ of covid-19