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Building Capacity

In addition to direct action, ELC helps build capacity among stakeholders to advocate in support of public education at the state level. ELC has developed and supported campaigns in New Jersey and in numerous other states to raise public awareness about the importance of school funding reform, high quality preschool, students’ rights, and other education issues.

For example, in New York, ELC works closely with the Alliance for Quality Education to ensure support for litigation and policy proposals on school funding, class size, preschool and other issues. In Nevada, ELC collaborated with local partners to create the public education advocacy organization, Educate Nevada Now (ENN), providing technical assistance on website development, community and press outreach, legislative testimony, etc. ELC has advised and assisted advocacy partners on communications strategies, messaging and coalition-building in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi, and other states. 

In many cases, ELC’s assistance with capacity building is connected with potential or pending litigation. In Nevada, in addition to serving on the legal team, ELC worked with ENN on messaging and outreach connected with the successful lawsuit against the state’s voucher law.

In New Jersey, ELC has long served as a key information source and central facilitator of communications, research, policy analysis, and strategy development among numerous education equity advocacy organizations across the state. ELC reviews and analyzes key developments in regulations, statutes and proposed policies to gauge the impact on vulnerable school children and education equity, information that is then disseminated through electronic communications and stakeholder meetings. ELC conducts technical assistance workshops on a range of topics, including working with the media; collecting, analyzing and reporting education data; standards and assessments; and fair school funding, among others.

ELC supports the work of a number of New Jersey education coalitions, including:

  • Our Children/Our Schools (OC/OS), a network of education, children’s rights and civil rights advocates and organizations. OC/OS members work together to support a vision of public education that is child-centered and provides all students with excellent and equitable opportunities to learn. ELC serves as an information source for participant groups and as a facilitator of communications, capacity building and advocacy campaigns. Individuals or organizations interested in joining OC/OS should contact Sharon Krengel at ELC.
  • Great Schools of NJ (GSNJ), a non-profit, voluntary association of high need school district superintendents, for which ELC provides policy, research and technical assistance. ELC supports GSNJ through information sharing, trainings, data and policy analysis, and other professional services. Issue areas include school funding, education reform, preschool, school facilities improvements, and other topics as needed and as requested by GSNJ and its member districts. ELC prepares and participates in regular meetings of GSNJ member district superintendents and facilitates interaction between the organization and education advocates.
  • New Jersey Special Education Practitioners (NJSEP), an association of over 100 attorneys and other advocates in private law firms and public interest advocacy organizations who represent students with disabilities in special education matters. ELC is the founder and leading member of the group. NJSEP hosts a listserv, meets regularly to discuss issues of importance to the practice of special education law and frequently hosts speakers and training sessions of interest to members. A significant component of the work involves advocacy on key special education matters, such as the successful effort to secure legislation to place the "burden of proof" in special education administrative hearings on school districts. Advocates interested in joining NJSEP should contact Rita Masino at the law firm of White & Case.