This morning, representatives from the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and the National Center for Learning Disabilities spoke with Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association, about comments made by her at the October 2015 Campaign for America’s Future Awards Gala referring to students with disabilities in a derogatory manner.
We appreciate Ms. Eskelsen Garcia’s expressed regrets for those remarks. At the same time, our organizations communicated our deep concern with some of NEA’s prior positions regarding students with disabilities, particularly those taken during the recent debates surrounding re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We believe that NEA should undertake further action to work more collaboratively with the disability community. We expressed our hope that this regrettable incident may serve as a turning point in NEA’s relationship with the disability rights community.
We request that NEA quickly convene a Disability Stakeholder Advisory Committee as a formal mechanism for NEA to coordinate with the disability rights community on issues affecting students with disabilities. We appreciate Ms. Eskelsen Garcia’s promise to respond to our request prior to December 21st. We will continue to communicate on these issues with our grassroots supporters and appreciate the efforts of all those stakeholders and activists who have communicated their concerns with the offensive remarks by phone and on the social media hashtag #UnacceptableExample. We urge continued respectful communication on the need for NEA to better engage with the disability community to increase the respect for students with disabilities and to improve their education and outcomes.
Lily Eskelsen-Garcia: @Lily_NEA
National Education Association: @NEAToday
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.