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Neuropsychology and Education Services for Children and Adolescents (NESCA) held a “Friend Raiser” event in Newton, MA on May 4th to honor Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC). The event was aimed at building grass roots awareness and support for MAC’s multi-pronged efforts to advocate for educational equity for children and families at both a systemic and individual level. The event marked the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency and the effect of his policies on special education was discussed.

Speaker Robert Crabtree, Esq., a principal at Kotin, Crabtree, and Strong and principal draftsman of the original special education law for Massachusetts, known as Chapter 766, predicted that responsibility for educating children, particularly those with special needs, will shift to states and towns under the Trump administration. He highlighted MAC’s role in creating existing Massachusetts state laws that safeguard protections for children with special needs and praised MAC for their “vigilance and detailed monitoring” in enforcing these laws.

Julia Landau, Esq., attorney and senior program director at MAC, echoed Crabtree’s statements and added that the shift of power to the states made it more imperative to strengthen state laws and standards. She discussed MAC’s work in many critical areas, such as studying the effects of voucher programs and school choice, and the rights of immigrant children.

Jerry Mogul, Executive Director of MAC, discussed the effects a bill passed that same day by the House of Representatives to replace the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, would have on both health care and education funding for children with disabilities. “Education is already underfunded,” he stated. In the future, “we will face incredible pressure to decide what to fund with our diminishing dollars: Health care or education. We will have to have the debate about raising state taxes to fund both of these areas.”

All three speakers emphasized the power of grassroots organizing and a handout was distributed outlining 5 Action Steps. These steps included contacting state representatives, US representatives, the governor, and/or town leaders, such as superintendents or mayors, to express opinions or tell a personal story. The first step was to sign up for alerts and updates from MAC.

Anyone interested in more information about this event or the work of MAC can look on their website (www.massadvocates.org) or contact NESCA (www.nesca-newton.com).

Based on an article by Nancy Roosa, PsyD, Staff Neuropsychologist, NESCA