Statement of Principles

Too often, in today’s public education system, students fail to reach their full potential because they aren’t receiving the education they need and deserve.

This is most true for students with unique abilities – children living with autism, profoundly gifted students, twice exceptional learners, kids with mental health diagnoses, and those with learning disorders. They deserve better and can achieve more. These students deserve access to education providers that can improve their academic performance, prepare them for valuable, contributing, independent lives after school, and unleash their full potential.

Throughout the country, stakeholder groups that represent these populations have fought to do this for their children- but in silos.

The Untapped Potential Project (UPP) aims to change this, by harnessing the collective power of our stakeholder groups-supporting their respective efforts while channeling them toward a unified goal: better and more intensive individualized learning opportunities for unique ability students.

UPP is a coalition of experts, parents, philanthropists, activists and community leaders fighting to collectively achieve policy goals that improve the educational plight of unique ability students.

UPP represents the parents of children with unique abilities who are often subject to very limited, inflexible, and poor quality educational options for their children. By their nature, kids with unique abilities need specialized learning environments.

UPP envisions a world in which students with unique abilities are equally and comprehensively assessed to determine their academic, social, and emotional needs; measuring not only their deficits, but their strengths too. We seek for students to be provided access to the challenging curriculum, supplemental therapies, specialized educational delivery providers, and related aids and services needed to create the individualized programs designed to meet their needs- no matter what system provides it.

While the most unique learners, such as children with autism and severe learning disorders, can qualify for special education and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) – too often, the learning tools these and other students need are not available, staff are not trained and equipped, mandates are not carried through, and funding is not applied effectively or equitably.

When these failures mount, the current advocacy strategy for many parents of unique learners is to provide their children with attorneys to ensure their IEPs are executed fairly. As a result, the planning process becomes a hostile environment, and well-intentioned special educators find themselves engaged in conflicts with families. Even worse, families across the United States either have ongoing lawsuits or have been given settlements that restrict them from speaking about the case in order to limit expansion of further legal action against the offending school districts.

Tens of thousands of parents with financial means have sued districts across the country, alleging that their children aren’t being provided with the quality education they deserve. Many other, lower income families aren’t as fortunate, or worse, aren’t aware that advocating for more individualized learning is an option. They lack the resources to fight against school districts that are willing to spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat them. Subsequently, these families are forced to accept an education designed to meet the needs of kids other than their own.