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This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Education Law Center (ELC) is marking its 30th anniversary with a Center City celebration. But the most telling measure of the center’s milestone may be the tens of thousands of lives made stronger by the legal battles ELC has won for vulnerable children.

Today, foster children no longer have to wait two months to enroll in a new school, and kindergarteners with Down syndrome can attend regular kindergarten, where they’ve been found to thrive.

For children with disabilities, there are fewer barriers to education, and for English language learners, there are more opportunities for learning.

Meanwhile, the number of families who have contacted ELC to speak with a “real lawyer” for advice on “everything from residency problems to graduation requirements, special education to charter schools, teacher-quality issues to Title 1 dollars,” now counts well over 100,000.

“What we’ve done is fought for those populations of kids and made a difference in ensuring that the system set up to protect those kids is respected, and the special services needed by them to learn and reach higher levels are made available,” Janet Stotland, ELC co-director, said during a recent interview.

The nonprofit legal advocacy organization, based in Center City, has offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.

ELC’s 30th anniversary celebration will take place Thursday, June 9, at 5:30 p.m., at Montgomery, McCracken, Walker, and Rhodes, 123 South Broad Street.

The evening’s agenda includes honors for disability rights advocates the Landsman Family, local student groups Philadelphia Student Union and Youth United for Change, and finally Stotland and Len Rieser, the organization’s co-directors. For more information, go to or call 215-238-6970.

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