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Cornerstone Special Education Advocacy's Fundraiser:

The Big Picture

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THE STORY:

The U.S. Census has estimated that up to one in eight youth have a disability (some hidden or undiagnosed).

30-40% of youth in foster care attend special education classes.

36% of high school dropouts have learning disabilities and 59% have emotional disorders.

75% of youth in the juvenile justice system have some type of disability.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, as of August 2015, only 19.5% of people with disabilities are participating in the labor force.

That leaves a whopping 80.5% who are relying on different sources of income (including government assistance), may be incarcerated or institutionalized, or having their needs met by another agency.

All of these program are usually funded at the financial burden of the U.S. taxpayer.

While students are still in school, Special Education Services administered properly and completely, could make a dramatic change in these numbers and outcomes for these individuals.

Most of society tends to think of special education and students with disabilities in a stereo-typical and empathetic way.

It’s easy to see the obvious disability in a child who has Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, or any number of physical or health impairments.

It’s hard not to feel something for those students and their parents.

Unfortunately it would seem society is mostly apathetic or even completely unaware about the struggle many parents face receiving special education services for their student with hidden disabilities.

Often, the majority of society is of the mind-set that a particular child has a behavioral problem, or is a product of bad-parenting, or, is just a difficult or “strong willed” child.

The reality is, the issue is likely to be a hidden disorder.

Hidden disorders or disabilities are the ones that aren’t so obvious, but are just as real.

For instance dyslexia, auditory processing, ADD/ADHD, cognitive deficit, anxiety, bi-polar, a reading, math, or language deficit, and so on.

These are usually obscured from the average person’s stereo-typical perception of a disability.

However, under the guidelines of federal, state and local education laws, if these disorders, and others like them, adversely affect the students’ educational performance, those students are supposed to receive accommodations the help them have access to the appropriate education they have a right to just like students without disabilities.

You wouldn’t ask a student in a wheelchair to pick up his wheelchair and walk up the stairs to get in to school.

That would be absurd.

However, when you require a student who has dyslexia or a reading comprehension deficit to read 5 or more passages and answer questions in a short time period, you are expecting too much from them. This student would require extra time to fully complete the task.

It’s true that learning disabilities can be difficult to manage, however, they shouldn’t necessarily impact a person’s chance of success.

There are over 13,500 school districts in the United States.

Duval County School District is the 20th largest school district in the nation.

It is the 6th largest district out of 67 in the state of Florida. With over to 125,000 students enrolled, 13% are enrolled as having disabilities. That’s 1 out of 6 students.

Duval County is surrounded by Baker, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau counties and serves as the metro area.

Baker County is ranked the 49th largest school district in the state with approximately 4,937 students enrolled with 11% enrolled as having disabilities. That’s 1 out of 10 students.

Clay County is ranked the 22nd largest school district in the state with over 35,000 students enrolled with 19% enrolled as having disabilities. That’s 2 out of 10.

St. Johns County is ranked at 24 with over 31,000 students enrolled and 14% enrolled as having disabilities. That’s 1 out of 7.

Nassau County is ranked 37 with just over 11,000 students enrolled and 13% enrolled as having disabilities. That’s 1 out of 6.

The overall total for the 5 counties is 208,455 students enrolled.

A total of 29,454 students are enrolled as having disabilities for a total of 14% or, 1 out of every 7 in the metro area.

There are more students with disabilities in our area than there are in Montana and Wyoming combined. In fact 10 other states have fewer students with disabilities than our metro area alone.

The problem is, most parents don't have the resources or knowledge in order to effectively advocate for their child.

They just don't have the time to do the research, the letter writing, the phone calls, attend the meetings, the ability to take time off of work, and they commonly become frustrated and feel that they are at the mercy of the education system.

Many of these families are low income earners who can't afford the services of a for profit advocate or education attorney.

They feel as if they have no other alternatives or even a choice in the matter and often will settle for lesser services or accommodations than those that are actually needed for their student.

Parents will often turn to the internet for help and information but they usually discover just how quick they succumb to information overload and become thoroughly overwhelmed.

Some of the information on the internet is not always accurate, current, or even relevant. Special Education laws change rapidly and often some state and local requirements may be more stringent than that of the federal requirements.

Parents don’t know where to begin, where they are in the process, or even what they want the end results to be.

This usually leads to them feeling alone, ashamed, and defeated.

We coach and train parents of students with disabilities how to navigate and fully utilize special education services, so their child can have complete access to the same education that children without disabilities acquire.

We partner with parents whose children need special education services to develop strategies that will continue throughout their child’s education until completion. Those strategies also include a transition to the pursuit of higher education or into the workforce.

Our mission is to empower students with disabilities to become independent, self-sufficient, individuals that can self-advocate for their needs and become a productive part of society while contributing their gifts and talents to the community.

As a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, we rely heavily on public and private donations. We have invested thousands of our own dollars and countless hours of our time to launch and sustain this organization.

By partnering with us through a monthly, annual, or one time tax deductible donation, you will help provide parents and students with disabilities a solid foundation to build an appropriate and individual education plan.

Your financial involvement will go towards training materials for parents, one on one advocacy, developing strategies for education plans, scholarships for student advocacy for low income families, raising awareness, administrative costs, overhead, seminars, support group development, research, parent coaching , student assessments, documentation, attending school meetings with parents and more.

The bottom line is that special education services and the appropriate education of students with disabilities, can make an impact on a community on a much larger scale than most people realize.

For the student, his quality of life, empowerment, and self-governance will allow him to be a productive part of the community.

For their family, the comfort of knowing their student does have a viable future and can succeed and grow as an individual.

For the community, a reduction in crime rates, prison populations, homelessness, and economic drain, and the increase of the pride, prosperity and overall well-being that we all work so hard for.

An appropriate education is the key to all things to all people.

Will you give a tax-deductible donation today to help a parent build a positive future for their child?

Thank you for your support!!

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