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Corrective Action Plan

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TEA's Strategic Action Plan for Special Education

April 24, 2018

TEA has posted a final "Strategic Action Plan for Special Education." It is posted on their website here. In the press release, TEA references its "extensive" and "comprehensive outreach efforts to solicit public input and feedback on the contents of the Plan. TxSER was among several statewide advocacy organizations who submitted comments and suggestions as to how to improve the Plan. Unfortunately, the final Plan contains few substantive changes from the original draft. We will continue to voice our concerns as we monitor its implementation and its effectiveness (or lack thereof) in improving outcomes for students with disabilities.

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The U.S. Department of Education Report regarding tea's illegal 8.5% sped cap

Texans for Special Education Reform Public Statement
January 18, 2018

“Failure is just another way to learn how to do something right.”
― Marian Wright Edelman

Finally. It’s about time. Long overdue.

Can we all just take a minute to salute Brian Rosenthal and the Houston Chronicle for exposing the 8.5% cap on special education and its effect on children, families, and educators? Here’s to you Brian!

Now the federal investigation has landed on TEA’s desk, and both the Governor and the Commissioner have (finally) called for involvement by those of us with boots on the ground – students, parents, teachers, advocates – to provide input to help right this wrong and support our public schools so they can support us and our kids. We think that’s a great idea. No one wants improvements in Texas special education more than we do.

TxSER has asked TEA about stakeholder input to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) request for a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), and they have told us they will soon have something on their website allowing anyone in the state to provide input and feedback through public comment and “potentially surveys,” as well as ongoing information about meetings and focus groups. We will be sure to post that information as soon as we receive it.

In the meantime, here is the report for you to review as you think about suggestions. We know that many families are still struggling daily, that many students are still being denied, and that many teachers are still being prevented from doing their jobs. We are all frustrated at the lack of accountability and angered by the massive injustices that have occurred. But it is important to remember that this is an opportunity for all of us to provide input about system reform rather than individual issues, for all students, not just our own. Helpful suggestions will be realistic and achievable and fit into one of the four Corrective Actions called for by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. Disability Rights Texas has a very helpful Facebook Live explaining each of these actions. TxSER will also be blogging about specific topics to help make sure you have the information you need.

Texans for Education Reform had an opportunity as part of the Advocacy Roundtable to provide preliminary recommendations. Examples of some of the input TxSER provided include the creation of an independent Office of Inspector General or Ombudsman to oversee TEA’s administration of special education; reinstituting Compliance Audits that include special education examination in local districts; and the creation by TEA (not ESCs) of bilingual training modules, toolkits, and infographics for parents, educators, and the public to clarify information about Child Find, LRE, FAPE, 504, and other relevant information.

Most of all, we are encouraging TEA to adopt a culture that champions all Texas children and creates a robust roadmap that supports public schools in supporting Texas children. This problem has been years in the making and it will take all of us – from the schoolhouse to the statehouse – to get it fixed, but working thoughtfully together, We. Can. Do. This. for the children.

More soon. Onward!

Texans for Special Education Reform Public Statement
January 11, 2018

Today, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs released a report about its investigation into the systematic and illegal cap on the educational civil rights of children with disabilities in Texas. Texans for Special Education Reform welcomes the report, but we are not at all surprised by its results. It is vindication for the thousands of parent, teacher, and advocacy voices that have cried out for years.

Nor are we surprised by the several examples included in the report that point to the damaging impacts of TEA’s “denied” policy: a teacher workforce that has been mis- or undertrained; administrative complicity in a policy of denial; and parents who have been misled, lied-to, gas-lighted, and victim-blamed as they advocated for their children.

Here’s what the report doesn’t include: Ryan, Jose, Angela, Tasha, Hayden, Maria….Behind every number in this report is a real Texas child. A child who is our child. A child who is our student. A child we know by name.

But there is work to do, and fast. Governor Abbott has called on Commissioner Mike Morath to develop an immediate plan to improve special education in Texas, and indicated he will call on the Texas legislature to take action as well. Commissioner Morath has pledged to work with parents and advocates in formulating the way forward. That’s a start.

It is high time that our leaders stop trying to prove that Texas schools are failing and start doing their jobs to help them succeed.

And success can only begin with real accountability at the Texas Education Agency. All of this comes at the same time as widespread coverage of recent agency failures surrounding its engagement in a multi-million dollar no-bid contract to mine IEP data without parent permission, to engage an experimental “design thinking for innovation” approach to legal civil rights compliance, and to hire a slew of “liaisons” who will never get anywhere close to a Texas classroom. It is also a time when the agency first reprimanded, then fired, its new Special Education Director based on her concerns about this project, leaving agency management devoid of special education expertise. TEA engaged in weeks of cover up and falsehoods before finally cancelling the project. We still don’t know where the data is. And we still don’t know how much money was wasted.

So, reform begins with a commitment to honesty by education leaders at every level in Texas. People who are responsible for bad decisions should not have control of the reins. Accountability is more than a score on a standardized test. Recent opinion pieces by the editorial staffs of the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Austin-American Statesman, and San Antonio Express News agree.

The awful truth is that the “denied” policy has resulted in a toxic culture that permeates every level of education in Texas and has turned a system meant to be student-centered and collaborative into one in which the personal needs of children have been viewed solely as numbers and percentages. It has resulted in a system in which the laws passed to provide for children’s equality of opportunity and protections from discrimination have been twisted into battlegrounds that provide billable hours by school-funded lawyers. And it has resulted in a system in which proven, research-based practices like Universal Design for Learning and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports have been tossed off in favor of overpriced for-profit “solutions” created by financial entrepreneurs whose greatest concern is getting their hands on the public money.

Providing quality special education is hard work, but it is not rocket science. Texas does not need design thinking. Texas needs common sense. Texas does not need expensive consultants. We need proper supports and trainings for our teachers. Texas does not need to invest in “liaisons.” It needs to invest in the construction and implementation of quality IEPs and 504s. Decades of research, thousands of pilot programs, and a solid body of civil rights laws can tell us exactly what we need to do for our kids in Texas.

No one is more committed to the successful reform of special education in Texas than the parents and teachers of students with disabilities. The Texas Education Agency, Texas elected officials, and Texas school districts who are sincere in their commitment to right this terrible wrong have no better allies than us. And if you aren’t, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

It’s high time to end both the practice and the culture of denial, break down the walls of conflict and arrogance, and send the gatekeepers home.

These are our children. These are our students. This is our Texas. This is our time to make this right.

Texans for Special Education Reform is a grassroots organization of parents, educators, advocates and allies committed to improving education in our state for all students with disabilities.

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    TEA Corrective Action Plan

    Initial Draft

    Stakeholder Feedback & Comments due February 18th

      US Dept of Ed Report

      Texas Part B 2017 Monitoring Visit Letter

      Issued Jan 11, 2018

        Governor Greg Abbott's Press Release

        Response to US DOE Report

        Issued Jan 11, 2018

          Governor Greg Abbott's Directive to Commissioner Mike Morath

          Issued Jan 11,2018

            Commissioner Morath's Response to Governor's Directive

            Issued Jan 11, 2018

              Disability Advocacy Organizations' Letter to Governor Abbott

              Issued Jan 16, 2018

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              Technical Network Restructure

              The following is TxSER's recommendations for restructuring TEA's Technical Networks, per their Corrective Action Plan, draft #2.

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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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