MDC is partnering with the Oak Foundation to learn more about the intersection of race, educational equity, and learning differences by building a learning and action network across North Carolina called "Learning for Equity: A Network for Solutions," or LENS-NC.
Nine North Carolina organizations focused on education, disability rights, activism, Latino issues, and rural communities were selected to learn more and advance their work at the intersection of race, educational equity, and learning differences. The organizations will receive funds to advance their work to reduce race and income disparities in educational outcomes among students with learning differences and create learning environments where marginalized students with learning differences will thrive.
Participating organizations are:
- Center for Racial Equity in Education (Charlotte), which seeks to build educator understanding of equitable practices and learning environments that address bias, and plans to produce an educator-focused playbook for better serving North Carolina students of color with learning differences
- Disability Rights North Carolina (Raleigh), which seeks to improve educational outcomes and reduce disparities in school exclusion, court referrals, and literacy deficits among students with learning differences statewide who have low-wealth families and/or are students of color and elevate the voices of students and families.
- Education Justice Alliance (Raleigh), which educates, activates, and engages communities of color, with a particular focus on Black and Brown working class people, and is working to create a school-funding coalition that would propose community solutions to unfair school-funding practices.
- El Futuro (Durham), which works with Latino children and families, particularly on education issues, and plans to enhance supports for Latino children who have ADHD by developing more culturally informed strategies at the practice- and system-level.
- Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (Davidson), which works with families, students, and professionals to practice special education advocacy in the context of institutionalized racism, and plans to work with school staff and principals on institutionalized racism and issues specific to students with disabilities.
- Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition (Chapel Hill), which empowers students, parents, and teachers to engage with one another to support their community as they navigate the educational system and seek better support for their diverse learning needs.
- North Carolina State Board of Education (Raleigh), which plans to develop and implement ARISE NC, an intensive training for school districts experiencing significant disproportionality in identifying children as students with disabilities, placement in educational settings, and incidence of disciplinary removals.
- Rural Opportunity Institute (Tarboro), which will be working with parents, students, and staff at Edgecombe County Public Schools to design, implement, measure, and evaluate the impact of a series of interventions to reduce the impact of trauma and provide opportunities for healing and resilience.
- Student U (Durham), which will continue developing strategies to support marginalized students in Durham, N.C., who learn differently, providing multiple one-on-one touchpoints for students over their 11 years at Student U.
Learn more about these organizations in a special series prepared by EducationNC, a LENS NC partner.
The organizations were chosen based on criteria including being geographically reflective of the state; representative of a cross-section of the entry points into work to reduce race and income disparities in educational outcomes; and seeking to create learning environments where marginalized students with learning differences will thrive.
Members of the Network will regularly meet with other Network members to learn, address common challenges, and explore opportunities to amplify effective strategies for change at classroom, school, community, district, and state levels.
Oak Foundation’s Learning Differences Programme strategically partners with and invests in organizations that improve education for students with learning differences. Learning differences are defined as diagnosed or undiagnosed specific learning disabilities (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia) as well as other related neurological processing challenges that can impact learning (such as attention deficits, sensory processing disorders, and executive function challenges).
LENS NC’s network will focus on shared learning and amplifying strategies by:
- Building knowledge and understanding of ways to combat structural racism within the education system, with a focus on the identification and support systems for students with learning differences
- Providing supports to marginalized students with learning differences and their families that increase confidence, self-esteem, and agency
- Building educator understanding of equitable practices and learning environments that address bias and promote cultural responsiveness in the classroom
- Influencing systems to embrace and adopt policies and practices necessary for schools to reduce race and income disparities in educational outcomes among students with learning differences
- Elevating the voices and strengthening the skills of students and families affected by structural racism to advocate for changes to practice, policy, and systems that improve opportunity for marginalized students with learning differences
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