SPEDWatch - Special Education Activism

Overview

SPEDWatch, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit social change movement fighting to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts schoolchildren with disabilities, ages 3-21.

We are an activist organization founded by Ellen Chambers, a veteran special education advocate and parent of a daughter with high functioning autism.

SPEDWatch members are working to eliminate the root causes of educational discrimination against Massachusetts students with disabilities, including:

  • Widespread noncompliance with, and poor enforcement of, special education laws
  • Poor funding of education in general
  • A pervasive misunderstanding about who these students are and what they are capable of achieving
  • A parent population which is isolated, unorganized, and often too afraid of retaliation to speak out publicly

History has taught us that inequitable treatment of disenfranchised and marginalized groups will persist until the oppressed people themselves rise up to demand change. So it was in the early 1900s when women fought for the vote. So it was in the 1950s and 1960s when African Americans fought for integration and equal rights. So it will be, SPEDWatch believes, for students with disabilities in our public schools. For this reason, we are doing our work within the context of a civil rights struggle utilizing the techniques of nonviolent direct action.

SPEDWatch strives to work cooperatively with our educational leaders and other key decision makers. We pursue our demands within a respectful dialogue. However, we recognize that our childrens' very lives are at stake in this struggle, and we are not willing to wait complacently for our capsized educational system to somehow right itself. If our demands cannot be met through good faith discussion, we will take more forceful action. We have no other choice.

What are SPEDWatch’s demands?

Only that students with disabilities be given the education to which they are legally entitled. No more. No less.