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A Thank You to the Press from Texans for Special Education Reform

 

The news media plays an essential role in holding government accountable in a free society. As parents, teachers, allies, and advocates for children with disabilities in Texas, we appreciate the journalists and news media outlets whose work has helped expose the impacts that government policies and budgets have on these most vulnerable Texans. 

The critical role of investigative journalism in exposing the ways government and elected officials’ decisions impact children, families, and communities is evidenced by several recent examples.

• The Houston Chronicle’s Denied series by Brian Rosenthal exposed the state’s illegal cap on the educational civil rights of students with disabilities, resulting in a federal investigation that forced statewide corrective action. 

• The Dallas Morning News’ Pain and Profit by David McSwane exposed the corruption of privatized Medicaid by companies profiting by denying healthcare to children with disabilities and foster children, resulting in legislative hearings and, hopefully, action in the upcoming session.

• The Austin-American Statesman’s reporting by Andrea Ball exposed the Texas Education Agency’s suspicious multi-million dollar no-bid contract with a company accessing private student information without parent knowledge, resulting in the contract’s cancellation.

• Reporting by Houston’s Fox 26 investigative journalist Greg Groogan was instrumental in the passage of legislation requiring cameras at parent request in schools where children have been abused by employees.

• John Savage at the Texas Observer has reported on the ways that wait lists for independent living supports result in homelessness for Texans with intellectual disabilities.

• Edgar Walters of the Texas Tribune reported on the impacts of budget cuts on early childhood therapies for babies and toddlers with disabilities, and Texas Monthly’s Mimi Schwarz shined a light on the ways school districts use their lawyers to fight families of children with disabilities.

• Many other reporters such as Alejandra Matos (Houston Chronicle), Julie Chang
(Austin-American Statesman) and Aliyya Swaby (Texas Tribune) and others stay on the stories. 

Local reporting also plays a critical role in holding local governments accountable. The Killeen Daily Herald’s series by Lauren Dodd led to long overdue action by the Killeen ISD Board of Trustees to conduct an independent audit of its special education, and Quinton Lilley and Julie Ferraro have continued to keep the report on special education in a district that serves a large number of military children. 

Reporting by print, television and radio reporters is – finally – bringing increased awareness of the ways that schools and police are arresting children with disabilities, some of them elementary school students. 

As Texans who know, love, work with and advocate for children with disabilities, we have a front-row seat to the impacts of bad policy, poor practice, and stingy budgets on these children. Thanks to the free press, the wider population of Texas knows it too.

To all of the reporters, editors, and news outlets who do this critically important work, we thank you, appreciate you, and support you. 

Texans for Special Education Reform is the leading grassroots disability organization focused specifically on improving special education to prepare Texas individuals with disabilities for future education, employment, community participation, and independent living.

 

 
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We envision a state in which all individuals with disabilities are identified, and receive an education that maximizes their future potential for post-secondary education, employment, community participation, and independent living.

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