Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on House Bill 159, relating to improving training and staff development for primary and secondary educators to enable them to more effectively serve all students. My name is Sabrina Gonzalez, and I am speaking on behalf of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, registering on the bill.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by state and federal law and is governed by 27 board members, appointed by the Governor, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. TCDD’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
House Bill 159 aims to prepare educators to provide a more inclusive, supportive, and barrier-free educational environment for students with developmental, physical, and intellectual disabilities. Educators seeking teacher certification will be required to demonstrate a basic knowledge of each disability category under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and how each category can affect student learning and development, competence in the use of proactive instructional planning techniques, and competence in the use of evidence-based inclusive instructional practices.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the landmark special education federal law that grants students with disabilities the right to receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible. Data supports the reality that students with disabilities benefit from being educated in an inclusive classroom setting, alongside their nondisabled peers. It is a research-based practice and under IDEA, a requirement that students with disabilities are educated in an environment that is as least restrictive as possible. Not only will HB 159 ensure that teachers are better prepared to provide students with disabilities an education that meets their needs, but it will also ensure that Texas teachers are following the federal requirements mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
In closing, HB 159 is consistent with the goals of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities and will prepare the next generation of educators on how to serve students with disabilities. Please feel free to contact TCDD for additional information or if we can be of additional service.
Public Policy Analyst
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
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