About Us

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) works to improve the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

Core Values

  • The dignity and worth of all individuals.
  • Social justice, inclusiveness, and diversity.
  • Professional excellence, integrity, and accountability.
  • Rich and meaningful participation in society for all individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Effective individualized education for all individuals with exceptionalities.
  • The importance of families in the lives and education of all individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Collaboration and community building to improve outcomes.


CEC is an international community of educators who are the voice and vision of special and gifted education. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with exceptionalities and their families through professional excellence and advocacy.


CEC is a diverse, vibrant professional community working together and with others to ensure that individuals with exceptionalities are valued and included in all aspects of life. CEC is a trusted voice in shaping education policy and practice and is globally renowned for its expertise and leadership. CEC is one of the world’s premiere education organizations.

Adopted by the CEC Board of Directors, January 2008


CEC's Beliefs


  • in advocating for the advancement of the education of individuals with exceptionalities.
  • all individuals have the right to an education.
  • all individuals have the ability to learn and attain self-fulfillment. 
  • in equitable access to and meaningful participation in quality educational opportunities for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • in the development of preventative programs and services for children deemed to be at risk.
  • in the opportunity for lifelong education for all individuals with exceptionalities.

    WE BELIEVE. . .  

    • full participation of individuals with exceptionalities enriches all communities.
    • education is a collaborative effort among learners, educators, families, communities, governments, businesses, and industries.
    • CEC is THE professional organization of and for all special education professionals.

      WE BELIEVE. . .  

      • qualified professionals are essential to meeting the diverse educational needs of individuals with exceptionalities.
      • all special education professionals have a continuing responsibility to improve their practice.
      • CEC has responsibility to assist special education professionals in improving their practice.
      WE BELIEVE. . .  
      • special education professionals have knowledge and skills to share with education and other professionals to meet the diverse learning needs of individuals with exceptionalities.
      • special education professionals should practice in a manner consistent with CEC's Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice.
      • special education professionals have a responsibility to collaborate with other professionals who work with individuals with exceptionalities to improve the delivery of instruction. 
      WE BELIEVE. . .  
      • governments have a responsibility to assure the provision of a free and appropriate education for all individuals with exceptionalities.
      • CEC is committed to an international orientation to all of its professional activities.
      WE BELIEVE. . .  
      • CEC shapes the future of education by fulfilling its mission.

      Adopted by the CEC Delegate Assembly, April 16, 1982

      CEC Ethical Principles for Special Education Professionals

      Ethical Principles (printer-friendly PDF)

      Professional special educators are guided by the CEC professional ethical principles and practice standards in ways that respect the diverse characteristics and needs of individuals with exceptionalities and their families. They are committed to upholding and advancing the following principles:

      1. Maintaining challenging expectations for individuals with exceptionalities to develop the highest possible learning outcomes and quality of life potential in ways that respect their dignity, culture, language, and background.
      2. Maintaining a high level of professional competence and integrity and exercising professional judgment to benefit individuals with exceptionalities and their families.
      3. Promoting meaningful and inclusive participation of individuals with exceptionalities in their schools and communities.
      4. Practicing collegially with others who are providing services to individuals with exceptionalities.
      5. Developing relationships with families based on mutual respect and actively involving families and individuals with exceptionalities in educational decision making.
      6. Using evidence, instructional data, research and professional knowledge to inform practice.
      7. Protecting and supporting the physical and psychological safety of individuals with exceptionalities.
      8. Neither engaging in nor tolerating any practice that harms individuals with exceptionalities.
      9. Practicing within the professional ethics, standards, and policies of CEC; upholding laws, regulations, and policies that influence professional practice; and advocating improvements in laws, regulations, and policies.
      10. Advocating for professional conditions and resources that will improve learning outcomes of individuals with exceptionalities.
      11. Engaging in the improvement of the profession through active participation in professional organizations.
      12. Participating in the growth and dissemination of professional knowledge and skills.  

      Adopted by the CEC Board of Directors, January 2010

      Valerie Wilson,
      Oct 14, 2014, 5:53 PM