Once again, Northwest Center is heading toward a remarkable anniversary. May 25, 2021 is the 50th anniversary of the passage of House Bill 90, “Education for All,” the Washington state law our founders wrote to guarantee a public education for children with disabilities. HB 90 led directly to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which impacted every ZIP code in the U.S. We’re excited to celebrate this milestone. But we also recognize how much further we have to go.
At this writing, public-school systems in Washington are under federal scrutiny for reports that students with disabilities have not been receiving the educational services they are guaranteed by law. Similar issues are sadly--and unacceptably—widespread. COVID-19 forced schools to go remote, resulting in children with disabilities nationwide being denied equal education. It’s a failure that further clouds a painful, turbulent time.
It may be difficult to look forward to greater equity, recovery, and peace as we remain in the throes of a pandemic and still very much troubled by injustice. But just as our founding mothers did what some thought was impossible in 1971, Northwest Center is planning for the future with determination and a renewed sense of purpose.
The events of the past year reminded us just how essential our mission of inclusion is for all communities. As we embark on our strategic plan for the coming decade, central to our strategy is our North: a world where 100% of kids have equitable access to education, and the employment rate for people with disabilities is the same as that of the general population. And our mission of inclusion intersects abilities, races, ethnicities, genders, orientations, and identities. We are committed to embodying that intersection and working alongside community partners as we expand our services.
While we are rightly proud of Northwest Center’s history, we are even more proud to count so many incredible families, supporters, businesses, employers, and organizations as partners in delivering on our mission.
We’re committed to making inclusive early education a reality for thousands more children as our IMPACT team continues to train educators and childcare directors. We’re committed to helping more parents of young children find the early intervention services they need. We’re committed to finding meaningful employment opportunities for more clients as we expand into Idaho and partner with amazing organizations like Swedish Edmonds. And with your partnership, we’re looking forward to being able to come together again, to build the trust, joy, and opportunity that every person of every ability and from every background deserves.
Join us, and let’s commit to making that change together.
Onward and upward,
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.