In the run-up to next Thursday’s McKinney-Vento Awards, we’ll be featuring a series of posts on our honorees and distinguished guests. Make sure you keep checking back!
As a national policy organization, we focus on the big picture, working to create new and enforce existing federal laws. Thanks to the McKinney-Vento Act, homeless children have the right to remain in the same school, regardless of where they rest their head at night. When schools and school districts fail to uphold that right, whether out of ignorance or through purposeful evasion, the National Law Center works to enforce the law.
But there’s more to it than that.
Imagine for a moment that you’re seven years old. Your father tells you he’s lost his job, and that everything around you – the house, the family car, your bedroom full of posters and toys – is about to vanish. You pack up what you can carry and move into a homeless shelter. The people there are kind, and they do everything they can for you, but this still isn’t home. It lacks the warmth and comforts of your old house.
Now imagine that your school says you don’t belong there anymore. They say that because you lost your house, you can’t see your friends or your teachers. If you want an education, you’ll have to find it elsewhere. You didn’t do anything wrong, but inside of a month, all the things you called your own have been ripped from your grasp.
That was the reality facing the Elzer family. That is why this work matters.
When the Carlynton School District unlawfully refused to enroll the Elzer children, the family fought the ruling, with the support of the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania and the National Law Center. The Elzers ultimately won the fight, settling the case. The district agreed to reenroll the children, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued new guidelines to prevent this from happening to the state’s 43,000 other homeless children.
We hope you’ll join us to honor the perseverance of the Elzers and the Education Law Center at our 12th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards on Thursday, October 14, at 6 pm. The evening’s keynote address will be delivered by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.
Click here for more information and to purchase your tickets.
- Andy Beres, Grant Writer & Communications Assistant