Policy advocacy by nonprofit organizations is essential to see change within a community. The move for nonprofit organizations to advocate the Disability Rights movement can aid in a change within the community as well as changing the perception that abled-bodied individuals mayhave about those who may be disabled. This paper will be exploring a nonprofit organization, Kids Community College, that is associated with this movement and is trying to make a change within society and the educational system. The background of the nonprofit organization will be discussed as well as what inspired the creation of the movement, the perception of the problem viewed by the nonprofit organization, and the calls to action that is advocated by Kids Community College to resolve this social problem. The strategies and approaches that this nonprofit organization uses to advocate the policy and address the problem as well as any negative repercussions that the organization may face will also be of discussion in this paper.
Kids Community College is a public charter school that provides high-quality child care for children 6 weeks to 8th grade as well as education to pre-k to 8th grade students by adopting the Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory in order to strengthen and focus an individual student’s learning. This educational institution dedicates itself to each student’s well-being and educational success. “For students to be successful beyond the classroom, a well-rounded higher level of education must recognize and emphasize that students’ social, academic, developmental, interpersonal and experiential lives are entwined. Kid’s Community College offers première institutions of higher learning to our student families and community partners. As the operator of high performing schools in Hillsborough and Orange County, Kid’s Community College is recognized as an award winning member of the education community” (“About Kid’s Community College”, n.d.).
Kids Community College preschool campus, that resides in Riverview, Florida, was founded by Timothy B. Kilpatrick, Sr. in March of 2003. Around the year 2005, he had expanded the educational offerings of the institution that included an elementary charter school under the same name. This institution would provide education to children ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. In the following year, 2006, another preschool campus opened in the FishHawk community in Lithia, Florida.
After Kids Community College had franchised in November of 2006, it began to offer preschool as well as charter school franchises the next year. A new extension to the Kids Community College to open was a middle school charter in 2009. This school provided education to kids in the sixth grade during its first school year and then expanded to sixth and seventh and finally sixth through eighth grade in the 2011-2012 school year. Another campus location had been approved for opening in 2010 and it’s an elementary school located in Orlando, Florida it opened its doors for the 2012-2013 school year. The way that the Kids Community College selects its students is through a lottery system. Once a parent submits an application for attendance, students are then chosen at random until the cap number of students is filled. It is a non-bias way that doesn’t consider race, gender, family income, residence, or religion in order to attend.
The vision of Kid’s Community College is to offer the highest quality, cutting edge as well as instruction and learning system for its students. “We will continue to research and develop business strategies and instructional methods that improve student outcomes, strengthen the foundational learning process and expand the company. We will continue to be aware of market trends and make changes as needed to remain competitive and consistently offer the best in service quality” (“About Kid’s Community College”, n.d.). It is also their mission to direct their activities toward the students’ success by providing a strong foundational system of learning fit for the student’s specific learning modality. “Our educators, facilitate education and instructional experiences that maximize the effective use of strengths and target areas of developmental need to ensure optimal student success” (“About Kid’s Community College”, n.d.).
The problem identified by Kids Community college is that there are deficiencies within the educational system. Tim Kilpatrick, the superintendent, has a goal in mind for Kids Community College. The goal is to provide the community with a high-level quality of education for each child as well as make up for deficiencies within the public education system. “We wanted to catch kids early and give them everything they needed to be successful regardless of learning disabilities or their capacity to learn, Kilpatrick said” (Straub 2017). KCC is unique, as its educational concepts are innovative and introduces a collegiate experience as well as giving each individual, regardless of learning capacity, the opportunity for equal access to education.
In order to combat this issue, Kids Community College incorporates unique tactics within their lesson plans.Prior to opening the school, Kilpatrick collaborated with multiple child development graduate students in order to develop the school’s first-degree learning system. Kid’s Community College incorporates curricula along with the Multiple Intelligence Development Assessment Scales (MIDAS), which students are tested at the beginning of the school year and the results of this test determines the individual student’s learning modality. MIDAS and other assessments are also used to base classroom lesson plans to specifically meet the student’s learning styles. The Individual Development and Education Plans (IDEPs) are used as well and are completed three times during the school year. By understanding each individual child’s learning style, it will aid in the development of the child at their own pace as well as making learning easier for them. In addition to choice and small class sizes, this also aids in individual development of a student as well as each child having their own tailored development plan.
Not only do they incorporate an intricate learning system, but parents are also heavily involved in the schools. “For each child, parents are committed to volunteer at the school for 20 hours during the school year. . . Because there is so much required parent involvement, the kids are more likely to do what they are supposed to do. They know parents will be there” (Hammett, n.d.). Kids Community College mentions that due to the parent involvement and volunteer hours that they have to commit to the school that the schools usually have few disciplinary issues. It is a great and unique concept created by the school and most educational institutions don’t offer this option. It also helps the parent become more involved in the child’s educational development and process as well as having knowledge of what is going on and being taught in the classroom. “The reason for the parental involvement is the school really takes on the culture in the form of the parents, we want them to be part of the experience, she said. It builds a certain culture and environment. Volunteerism is part of the compact” (Hammett, n.d.).
Approaches and strategies that KCC are implementing to advocate innovative learning techniques is their KCC preparatory High School is that will be offering incoming students to declare a major as you would in college and this major would provide electives for the student to focus more on their talents as well as aid in the discovery of their passion. This school will be opening next fall. As of now, there are about nine campuses currently and is continuing to expand and grow. More expansion plans from KCC are under works as well as motivating other charter schools to expand in the SouthShore area.
Brian Bethune, the principal at the KCC Mathog Road campus, also believes that the growing trend and popularity of charter schools provides a more flexible curriculum and provides a close-knit community. “One thing that makes us unique is that some of our students have been with us since they were 1- or 2-years-old because we have a preschool program,” Bethune said. “Administrators and faculty get to know these children and understand their strengths and weaknesses. We become a big family which leads to more individualized attention and much greater success for our students” (Straub 2017).
Negative repercussions against Kids Community College are little to none as the community supports the movement and goals of their educational approaches. Marijean Reith, who is an honorary deputy mayor of Riverview, Florida, believes in the concept of the Kids Community College. “The individualized approach to education fulfills a great need in our community,” Reith said at the March 22 groundbreaking ceremony for the new high school. “Upon moving to Riverview four years ago, I searched and searched for just this kind of charter school for our son, but to no avail. “I ended up home schooling him for the duration of his high school years. So I know firsthand what a great blessing KCC Preparatory High School will be for the students that will be able to attend” (Straub 2017). It is also mentioned by Kilpatrick that if the community supports their cause and what they are doing, then they will continue to grow.
In conclusion, policy advocacy can aid in changes within society and the community that you may live in. With the help of non-profit organizations such as this one, educational services can become more accessible to those with learning disabilities. By providing tuition-free catered learning, it gives many children with disabilities the chance to have the same learning opportunities as those withouta disability. By advocating this policy, it can very well change the perception of people with disabilities and that they have the capacity to learn just like any other person regardless of the disability. Just because an individual may be impaired does not mean that they should be discriminated against and given less opportunity. They deserve the basic human right to education.
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