Advocating For At Risk Youth
In addition to roles within our own organization, Special Education Services leaders are actively involved at the local, state, and federal levels. We believe that state and federal funds should be earmarked for children who live in poverty. Poverty is the number one contributing factor to student dropout, suspension, expulsion, academic failure, and school-based crime. It is the belief of Special Education Services that state and federal funds should be used to equalize resources to all children, reducing the disparity in local wealth seen across the nation. Every child has a constitutional right to an adequate education. Thus, we as an organization have pledged to advocate for children who live in poverty at all levels of government. We make this pledge to the children, families, and communities we serve without reservation.
The leadership of Special Education Services has actively participated in many local, state, and federal councils, task forces, committees, and organizations, continually working for children who live in poverty.
- Gubernatorial Assignment to The Illinois State Council on Re-enrolling Students Who Dropped Out of School: The Council was charged with carrying on the work of the Task Force on Re-Enrolling Students Who Dropped Out of School by continuing to examine and develop ways to address the growing issue of students who left school before earning a high school diploma. The purpose of the council is to study policies, programs, and successful approaches to re-enroll, teach, and graduate students who dropped out of school in order to improve community safety and the Illinois economy.
- Legislative Assignment to the Illinois State Task Force on Special Education Funding: Representatives of The Menta Group-Special Education Services worked with Chicago Public Schools to prevent the state from reallocating $250,000,000 in funds for children with disabilities. We conducted detailed data analysis and presented the information to Chicago leadership, working with CPS to assure that these funds remain with the poorest, neediest children in the state. This work continues to ensure that these dollars are not taken from CPS and given to the wealthier districts in Illinois.
- State Work Groups: The Menta/SES leadership are actively involved in many state work groups including: The Illinois State Wide Transition Fair, Legislative Committees, Rules and Regulations Committees, IAASE, IAPSEC , Employment First, Governors Task Force on Employment First, and many others.
- Leadership in Educational Organizations: Senior leadership has actively advocated on behalf of at risk youth for many years, holding board positions and serving on committees in educational organizations such as Illinois Association of Private Special Education Centers, Transitioning of Special Education Students, and Employment First.
- Partnership with Council of Chief State Superintendent Officers (CCSSO): One of the Council’s most important responsibilities is to serve its members through building the capacity of states and their leaders. This requires creative problem solving to address complex issues, and access to technical assistance and resources not readily available. The Council’s Business and Industry partners are a select group of institutions and organizations that engage in the work of the Council and participate in CCSSO’s membership meetings. Through this interaction and exchange of ideas, partners gain a greater understanding of key issues facing state education leaders and members benefit from exposure to new ideas, different perspectives, and innovative solutions.
- National Association of Private Special Education Centers: Provide an active voice at the federal level, advocating for children with disabilities across the nation.
Active involvement at the local, state, and federal levels is essential if the voices of our neediest children are to be heard. We believe that all children will succeed if given the chance. Accordingly, we will never give up on a child and will continue to advocate for all children’s rights.