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Looking Forward to the Next 100 Years

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Chris Lemons, Ph.D.
Stanford University


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One hundred years of the Council for Exceptional Children. This is a milestone to be celebrated. Still, while I think there are so many accomplishments for which to pat our forebearers, colleagues, and ourselves on the back, we have so much more work to do pushing our field forward.

We should relish and delight in the progress our field has made in ensuring children and adolescents with disabilities are able to receive a free and appropriate public education, local campuses include students with disabilities, and teacher training programs continue to improve in guiding teachers to support students with disabilities.

Unfortunately, our progress is insufficient. We live in a time where students with disabilities continue to remain under-educated, less included than they could be (both in terms of quantity of time and quality of education), and with poorer post-secondary opportunities and possibilities than we would desire.

The past two years of a pandemic has messed up so many things in schools. But, I, optimistically, think that ed researchers, specifically DR members, are in the best space to respond in original, organic, creative ways to support the kiddos we most care about.

For many of us, this has been a season of reflection, reconsideration, and re-intentioning. I hope each of you has had a moment (or more) to pause and reflect on the impact of your research with an intention to improve the lives of children and adolescents with disability, their family members, and their educators. 

What I really want to ask you each to reflect on is ‘What matters?’… That paper, that abstract, that meeting…or is it the other work you do making the most amazing teachers of students with disabilities? Conducting research to support our students w/ disabilities? Being an advocate to make our political system more responsive to the kids and families we care about?

I’m hopeful each of you gets a minute to pause in the new year to reflect on your priorities. The last couple of years seems to have made focusing a bit hard. The CEC Division for Research (CEC-DR) community is one that continually offers our community members with support, guidance, and encouragement. I hope we continue to do that. Our focus on improving education and life outcomes for individuals with disability and their family members and educators is such an amazing path and I hope all of us continue to pursue this path with the passion we experienced before the world went nuts with COVID. I am especially excited about the opportunities at our upcoming meeting to continue forging and deepening cross-divisional partnerships. I very much appreciate the CEC Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD)'s leadership here. We are a close-knit community and I enjoyed connecting with many of you at the in-person CEC 2022 Convention & Expo in Orlando. The future is bright…we’ve just got to continue doing the hard work that ensures this brightness is extended to the children, adolescents, young adults, family members, and educators we most care about.

Posted:  24 January, 2022
Chris Lemons
Author: Christopher J. Lemons, Ph.D.
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