Policy & Advocacy

Advocacy Resources

Advocacy Toolkit for Self-Advocates

Click here to download the PDF – NDSC Advocacy Toolkit for Self-Advocates

Questions for political candidates on important issues

Questions for Candidates on Education and Employment

Prior to 1971, public schools had no obligation to educate children with disabilities and many did not. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — IDEA) guarantees all children the right to a free and appropriate public education in the school they would otherwise attend if they did not have disabilities. The goal of education for all individuals is to prepare them for a meaningful career, economic self-sufficiency and a meaningful life in the community. Despite the fact that this law was passed more than 30 years ago, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities remains at about 90 percent.

Questions for candidates

  • Should schools provide the same opportunities (academic and non-academic) for students with disabilities as they do for non-disabled students?
  • When parents disagree with schools and need to utilize due process procedures, do you think the burden of proof should be on the parents or the schools?
  • Should parents be required to pay expert witness fees when they use an expert witness in a due process hearing?
  • Do you think transition services (for ages 18-21) to prepare students with disabilities for jobs and other post-secondary opportunities should be real jobs in the community with people who are not disabled?
  • Do you think the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act should be fully funded at the federal level as was promised when initially passed?
  • Do you think that all people with disabilities should have the opportunity to work at a real job with competitive wages?
  • What would you do to increase work opportunities for people with disabilities?

Questions for Candidates on Community Living Services

The federal/state Medicaid program funds most adult services such as housing, transportation and support staff who provide assistance to individuals with disabilities with the activities of daily living. It also provides services to some children with disabilities. It is a funding stream that is biased towards costlier institutional care and under siege at the federal and state levels.

If you want those safety net services to be in place when your child grows up — or to remain in place if your family member with Down syndrome now uses them — then you need to know where candidates stand on funding adult services.

Question for Candidates

  • What would you do to ensure that federal and state budget shortfalls do not harm programs and support services for individuals with disabilities to live in their community?
  • What do you see as the role of the federal government in disability policy?
  • What do you think of the trend to limit the role of the federal government in disability policy?
  • What do you see as the role of disability advocates as states move to managed care systems to deliver Medicaid (community-based support services) to adults with disabilities?
  • What would you do to ensure that federal and state budget shortfalls do not harm programs for individuals with disabilities?

This list is not exhaustive – feel free to develop your own questions.  You can always ask a follow-up question.

Policy Documents



First Circuit FAPE Amicus Brief

NDSC Comments – Public Charge Rule



Questions for Nominee for OESE Assistant Secretary

Amendment Support Ltr 12 11 17 FINAL

HEA House Ltr 12 11 17 FINAL

Assistant Secretary Confirmation questions

NDSC Comments on Secretarys Proposed Priorities Final



DeVos Ltr 11 01 2017.docx

RM Former Officials et al amicus brief – as filed 10 30 17

Summary of OSERS stakeholder call 10-24-17

2017-10-05 Endrew – Amicus (as filed)

NDSC testimony for Graham-Cassidy FINAL 9.24.17

LRP NY off grade testing 9_17 article and LRP Advocate respond NY off grade request article 9_17

NDSC comments on NY ESSA waiver request 9-5-17

Statement for House ESSA Hearing

Panel Statement 7.13.17

ESSA State Plan Review Guide & Advocacy Tips – June 2017 (by NDSC and The Advocacy Institute)

Part B SPP-APR Comments Statement

ESSA-LEA advocacy 5-1-17

Analysis of Draft ESSA State Plans (by NDSC and The Advocacy Institute)
Click here to get the most updated plans for each state

Advocacy Strategies

U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION CONFIRMATION HEARING: Suggested Questions Submitted To Senate Committee

NDSC Response to Innovative Assessment Regulations

ESSA State Plan Advocacy Guide

ESSA Activities by State

Sample Comments on State ESSA Plan

NDSC Response to Academic Assessment Proposed Regs

ESSA General Public Comment Talking Points – Updated 8-18-16

Summary of NDSC comments on Proposed Accountability Regulations

NDSC Comments on Proposed Accountability Regulations

Topics for Non-Regulatory ESSA Guidance 5-17-16

Negotiated Rulemaking Summary 5-16-16

A General Public Comment Talking Points

Four Advocacy Tips For ESSA Implementation 2.11.16

Top 5 Things to Know about ESSA for IEP Meetings

ESSA FAQs and IEP Tips

NDSC Comments on ESSA Regulations

Every Student Succeeds Act

Elementary and Secondary Education Act Summary 2001-2014

Chairman Alexander’s ESEA Discussion Draft- Summary of NDSC Recommendations

NDSC comments on Chairman Alexander’s Discussion Draft

ESEA Letter to Chairman Kline on Student Success Act 2-10-15

Early Childhood Inclusion Policy Statement-NDSC comments

Webinar Archives

Post-Election Analysis (Jan 24, 2017)

Slides – NDSC Post Election Analysis
Recording – click here to sign in

ESSA 3-Part Series ~ What You Can Do to Impact Implementation

Presented by NDSC, NDSS & DSAIA

Jan 12, Part I – recording
Jan 19, Part II – recording
Jan 26, Part III – recording

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
What YOU Can Do to Impact ESSA Implementation

Presented by Ricki Sabia, NDSC Senior Education Policy Advisor and Heather Sachs, NDSS Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy on October 25, 2016

Slides – joint-ndsc-ndss-essa-overview-webinar-final
Webinar video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8C5f93A9_Y&feature=youtu.be

Strategies for Successful Public Policy Advocacy

Powerpoint – NDSC policy webinar 2015