The
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services
to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs “how states
and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related
services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and
youth with disabilities” (U.S Department of Education, 2017, p.
1). According to the National Center of Education Statistics, in 1975, the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the
Education for All Handicapped Children Act, ordered the arrangement of a free
and proper government funded school training for qualified youngsters and youth
ages 3– 21

The
IDEA provides protection for “eligible children and youth that have been identified
by a team of professionals as having a disability that adversely affects
academic performance and as needing special education and related services”
(U.S Department of Education, 2017, p. 2). 
Even though a child may be struggling, a student must be identified as one
and/or more of the 13 categories. However, data collection for these services
was not monitored for compliance until 1976 (NCES, 2017).

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As
a Special Education Teacher in the public-school system, I have noticed changes
regarding the assistance for Special Education states. In these past few
months, the State of Texas have been exposed as not allowing children an
opportunity to receive the necessary academic support to be successful. It is
illegal to not provide the adequate services to a child. Therefore, as an
advocate I arranged a meeting with an elected official.

To
arrange a meeting with an elected official an individual must identify the
district in which they reside. I reside in DeSoto, Texas, which is 10 minutes
outside of Dallas, Texas. My residence is considered Dallas County District 30.
According to Texas Government national website, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice
Johnson would be my elected official for the House of Representatives, as well
as Senator Royce West. Therefore, by scheduling a meeting with Senator Royce
West, I was able to discuss my concerns regarding the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  According
to the National Center of Education Statistics, (2017), “Advocates for kids
with disabilities just saw a key bill fly through both chambers, which would
stop the state from capping special education services at 8.5 percent of
students” (Students with disabilities, p. 1). Those key bills have caused an
issue for the State of Texas with the federal government. My advocacy is
regarding House Bill 21, which states, “adding funding for dyslexia students.” According
to Janna Lilly, director of governmental relations for the Texas Council of
Administrators of Special Education has projected that the bill may not go far
in the Senate as it requires money.

Arranging
the visit was challenging for me at first as I was having a tough time speaking
with someone. After several attempts, I was finally told that Senator West was
in Austin and Congresswoman Johnson will not be in the Dallas office until
Mid-August. As that would be too late to do a face to face meeting. I was
fortunate to be placed with West Chief of Staff, LaJuana Barton. Ms. Barton was
a very kindred spirit. I was welcomed with much gratitude and respect. During
my visit, Ms. Barton and I discussed the many accomplishments and sponsorships
of Senator Royce West. Senator Royce West has been elected to his fourth term
to Senate but, has been involved in politics since 1993. I was enlightened by
the many accomplishments Senator West has been acknowledged for. Senator West
is a part of four departmental committees, including Education. He is
influential in the city of Dallas along with Dallas County as he has been
credited with numerous wins. During the 2009 Legislative Session, Senator West showcased
his support for helping children and families by passing the legislation that
made a connection care program whereby qualified relative can receive state
support to assist raising children who could otherwise become part of the
foster care system (Senator Royce West, District 23).

After
a few minutes of formal and persuasive introductions, I presented my viewpoint,
House Bill 21. The bill had been brought to Senator West already as he is on
the Education committee for the Senate. Nevertheless, Ms. Barton was widely
impressed by the extensive research and detailed facts that was provided. The
impeccable statistics and current and past bills that did not fully address the
issues of special education students needs for instance, Senate bill 748 and
House Bill 61 which refers to allocate more services to special needs students
and academic recognition for district special needs students.

Ms.
Barton explained that Senator West is a proud supporter of equality, family and
children. Senator West is aware of the House Bill 21. Currently, it is still
within the House and he is waiting for it to pass down the floor. According to
the Legislative scan, House Bill 21 is mainly supported by State Representative
Dan Huberty (Republican). House Bill 21 is considered a slight partisan bill.
Ms. Barton was surprised that the Republicans were backing the House Bill 21 as
it requires readjusting the Department of Education budget. The current
supporters of House Bill 21 are 16-8; 16 Republicans and 8 Democrats. By
advocating this bill, I plan to let the voices of my special needs students be
heard. There have been numerous bills as I have stated earlier, that have
“died” in the House due to lack of support. I asked that Senator West become a
supporter of House Bill 21 therefore, “No Child is Left Behind.” Ms. Barton
could not give a definite answer of Senator West support however, she stated,
“if the bill is of interest to Senator West, he would definitely have it in
consideration.”  I thanked Ms. Barton for
her gracious time and looked forward to hearing great news regarding House Bill
21.  Overall, the meeting went extremely
well.

 

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