Don’t Leave Them Behind: Education for Homeless, Immigrant, and Limited-English-Proficient Children

By Liz Abdnour

Homeless, immigrant, and limited-English-proficient children may be unable to access a public education as public school districts make their residency requirements stricter. Advocates can challenge these policies through civil rights complaints to federal or state agencies or in federal or state court. Advocates should keep in mind the protections of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act and its inclusive definition of who is considered homeless.

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Health Care Scams on Immigrants in the Age of the Affordable Care Act

By Daniel Seokhwan Choi

Scams against immigrants are nothing new. But the Affordable Care Act has given scammers a new venue for their old tricks. Confusion around the new law and immigration status leaves many immigrants vulnerable to scams. Language and cultural barriers raise the difficulty of consumer education and outreach to immigrant communities. Immigrant and health care advocates should take pains to educate their clients about and be on the lookout for health care scams.

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Consumer Resources for Clients with Limited Literacy

By Jennifer Leach, Deborah Kennedy & Miriam Burt

The Federal Trade Commission collaborates with legal aid programs to make consumer education materials accessible to clients who have low literacy levels or are English language learners. Legal aid attorneys were essential in the creation of Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov—parallel English and Spanish websites that help low-income consumers understand their rights and how to protect themselves. The content of the websites is shaped by research on using simple language, design elements, and graphics to enhance comprehension by users with low levels of English literacy.

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Litigating Behavioral-Services Cases

By Alice K. Nelson & Carol Quirk

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states receiving federal public education funding are required to provide a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities. From the beginning, the IDEA envisioned that appropriate education for some children will have behavioral supports and interventions. Attorneys who advise parents and litigate behavioral-services cases under the IDEA should gain a basic understanding of behavior analysis, assessment, and intervention, and of the legal landscape under decisional law.

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A Novel IDEA: Protecting Students with Disabilities from School Bullies

By Cheryl-Lyn D. Bentley

Bullying disproportionately affects students with disabilities, and it has an impact on not only their emotional and physical health but also their academic performance. Some courts have used a test modeled on the Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education sex discrimination test to evaluate peer-to-peer disability harassment. A different, student-focused test more rooted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act may help more students get relief and push school officials to take a more proactive stance against bullying.

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Aging Out Is Not a Graduation: Breaking Down Higher-Education Barriers for Youth in Foster Care

By Amy Woolard

Youths in foster care face many educational barriers—and those hurdles do not disappear when youths “age out” of foster care. The instability of foster care can lead to educational gaps that hinder the college prospects of youths in foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 reduces these harms, and states should fully implement its protections. Foster youths seeking higher education may lack not only money but also a strong support network. States’ higher-education systems should offer both financial and mentoring support for those students.

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Universal Free School Meals: Ensuring that All Children Are Able to Learn

By Madeleine Levin & Jessie Hewins

A growing number of schools offer all their students free meals through the new federal community eligibility option, which makes it easier for high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch and eliminate the administrative work associated with identifying and tracking each child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Advocates should use a variety of strategies to offer meals for free and eliminate barriers to participation, including stigma.

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Stemming the School-to-Sheltered-Workshop Pipeline

By Ronald M. Hager

In spite of long-standing federal requirements designed to prepare people with disabilities for integrated, competitive employment, many students with disabilities are shuttled to sheltered workshops when they leave school. In these workshops they earn far below the minimum wage. Why the school-to-sheltered-workshop pipeline persists can be explained, but enforcing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Rehabilitation Act’s requirements when a student transitions out of school should help more students with disabilities find competitive employment.

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Housing and Education Advocates Work Together to Improve Education

By David Zisser & Brenda Shum

Sustainable communities and affordable housing are not always mentioned in discussions about how to improve American schools. However, housing advocates understand that healthy, integrated neighborhoods are the foundations of solid public school systems. If education advocates work with housing advocates to deepen their understanding of how housing affects education, students across the country will benefit.

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Socioeconomic Student Assignment Plans: Opportunities for Low-Income Families and Racial Diversity in K–12 Public Schools

By Carol Ashley

A socioeconomic student assignment plan is a method of enrolling students in public schools that gives families a choice and better opportunities for their children to attend high-quality schools with a racially and economically diverse student body. Information and transparency are key in a socioeconomic student assignment process. Antipoverty and education advocates should consider pursuing socioeconomic student assignment plans in their communities.

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