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Who We Are

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Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
— Mark Twain, American Author
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WE ARE

parents, educators, and allies who support the educational civil rights of students with disabilities in Texas. We are building a unified movement to find, promote, and advance systematic improvements that result in better outcomes for all students with disabilities.



WE BEGAN

as a conversation between a few parents outraged by our own experiences and those of other families documented in the Houston Chronicle’s “Denied” series and the subsequent U.S. Department of Education’s investigation of special education in Texas. We opened a Facebook page and within just a few days found more than a thousand followers.



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.



WE BELIEVE

in our guiding values. By aligning and collaborating with statewide organizations, parents, allies, educators, and advocates, our mission is to:

  • Educate Texans about special education civil rights and best practices and their benefits to all children, families and communities;

  • Shift the special education “culture of conflict” between families and schools into one that focuses on student-centered learning; and

  • Promote policies, practices, and laws that advance our vision to improve special education as preparation for students' future education, employment, community participation, and independent living.



WE ARE

Texans for Special Education Reform. Welcome to THE MOVEMENT.

OUR GUIDING [VALUES]

  • TxSER promotes the mission and vision of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Texas laws that protect children with disabilities from discrimination and provide them opportunities to meet their individual potentials.



  • TxSER speaks with a unified voice to support educational reforms, policies, and practices that prepare Texans with disabilities for their future.



  • TxSER is focused on special education (including IEPs and 504 Plans) as individualized systems of supports, accommodations, modifications, and curriculum that are the civil rights of every Texas student with disability. We do not accept the misrepresentation of special education as a stigma nor as a placement that should be delayed, denied, or as something students with disabilities progress out of, except in very rare circumstances.



  • TxSER believes that the cost of denial of special education to students with disabilities is far greater to them, their families, their communities, and Texas than is the cost of its provision.



  • TxSER seeks to transform Texas special education into the collaborative, person-centered process it is intended to be, with the needs of the child at the center of policy and practice.



  • TxSER believes that individualized education that prepares children with disabilities for their futures is a model for school reform that benefits every student.



  • While TxSER acknowledges that significant problems, including but not limited to the 8.5% cap, have been pervasive in Texas, we are focused on solving those problems and creating a better future to the benefit of all Texas children, educators, families and society.

OUR [TEAM]

Meet Our Amazing Steering Committee



Alyssa Postasznik
  • EDUCATOR

  • Alyssa is a high school special education teacher and graduate student in the University of Texas's Special Education department.

  • She likes advocating for parents and students, progress monitoring, and her two dogs.

  • She is especially interested in working with other teachers and administrators on best practices regarding students receiving special education services.

  • “Don't let your idealism be vitiated by cynicism.” - Desmond Tutu

ALYSSA
Lead, Educators

AMY LITZINGER
  • EASTERSEALS, PARENT TO PARENT TEXAS

  • AMY
    Lead, Students

    Cheryl Fries with her dogs
    • CO-FOUNDER, TxSER

    • Cheryl is a writer, filmmaker, media consultant, and former high school teacher.

    • She likes high expectations, integrity, and chocolate cake.

    • She is especially interested in accessible facilities, transition, and military families.

    • “It is always impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela

    CHERYL
    Communications

    Chris Masey
    • COALITION OF TEXANS WITH DISABILITIES

    • Chris is a senior public policy specialist, dad, and avid Texas hockey fan.

    • He likes equity, fairness and birds.

    • He is especially interested in the financial independence and employment of adults with disabilities; special education; learning disabilities; and school district functions & processes.

    • “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” - Fredrick Douglass

    CHRIS
    State Policy

    Christine Broughal
    • ADVOCATE

    • Christine is an attorney, advocate, writer and activist.

    • She likes evidence-based strategies, flexible learning environments and traveling with her family.

    • She is especially interested in educational equity, meaningful inclusion and improving outcomes for all students with disabilities.

    • “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” - Albert Einstein

    CHRISTINE
    Content/Policy Expert

    Jacquie at the Capitol of Texas
    • AUTISM SOCIETY OF TEXAS

    • Jacquie is an administrative coordinator, avid public school supporter, and autism advocate involved in policy at the state and national level.

    • She likes seeing people with disabilities get the therapies they need covered through insurance, the many public school teachers that have supported her child over the years, and students with disabilities reaching their maximum potential (but she really, really doesn't like feet).

    • She is especially interested in issues facing children with autism, restoring cuts to Medicaid reimbursements, properly funding Texas public schools, and ensuring every child in Texas with a disability is identified and appropriately supported.

    • “Presume competence.” - Unknown

    Jacquie
    TxSER Allies

    JANA MCKELVEY
    • CO-FOUNDER, TxSER

    • Jana is a photographer, special education consultant, and former advertising professional.

    • She likes comprehensive and data-rich PLAAFPs that drive IEP development, understanding students' learning profiles, mexican Coca-Cola, and (is obsessed with) college football.

    • She is especially interested in quality IEPs, social justice, and the education of students with intellectual disabilities.

    • “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You cannot withstand the storm.' The warrior whispers back,
      'I am the storm.'”
      - Unknown

    JANA
    Outreach

    Jolene Sanders
    • EASTERSEALS CENTRAL TEXAS

    • Jolene is an advocate, researcher and program evaluator, advocacy training coordinator, and former early childhood professional and family advocate.

    • She likes empowering parents as experts, promoting self-advocacy skills in students, data-driven accountability, and belly laughing with her family.

    • She is especially interested in early intervention services, quality IEPs, professional development, and social/behavioral supports in schools.

    • “Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers. They challenge you, break you open, uplift & expand you. They don’t let you play small with your life. These heartbeats are your people. These people are your tribe.” - Unknown

    jolene
    ECI/Medicaid

    Linda Litzinger
    • TEXAS PARENT TO PARENT

    • Linda is a legislative advocate, attends a TON of stakeholder meetings, and formerly led her daughter's scout troop from kindergarten through 12th grade.

    • She enjoys helping parents locate and apply for Advisory Boards; getting solid legislative bills passed; and reading, painting with watercolor, and attending plays.

    • She is especially interested in helping students identify helpful educators, fixing accessibility issues, and facilitating transition to employment, higher ed, fulfilling lives, and financial security.

    • “Nothing about us, without us!” - Disability Community Mantra

    Linda
    State Policy/DME

    Lisa Flores
    • COMMUNITY ACTIVIST

    • Lisa is a seamstress for hairless cats, a domestic engineer and a proud participant in the 2017 Texas Partners in Policymaking.

    • She likes Star Wars, authenticity, civil discourse, platypuses, and really good coffee (but is really not into clowns and people who don’t use their blinkers).

    • She is especially interested in educational equality for all students, particularly for Latino students with disabilities.

    • “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” - Bruce Lee

    LISA
    Lead, Latino Community

    Maggie Suter
    • POLICY ADVOCATE

    • Maggie is an educational diagnostician, policy advocate and former public school teacher.

    • She likes kindness, authenticity, truth and spending time outdoors.

    • She is especially interested in inclusive school communities, diversity, and individualized instruction.

    • “I am different, not less.” - Temple Grandin

    MAGGIE
    Social Media

    Mara LaViola
    • DISABILITY ADVOCATE

    • Mara is an attorney, advocate, former community organizer, and musical theatre lover.

    • She is an ardent proponent for educational equity, rigorous and ambitious expectations for all children, and preparing students for meaningful postsecondary opportunities.

    • She is especially interested in inclusive school communities, diversity, and individualized instruction.

    • “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” - Mahatma Gandhi

    MARA
    State & Federal Policy

    Suzanne Potts
    • AUTISM SOCIETY OF TEXAS

    • Suzanne is a social worker, disability rights advocate and Executive Director of the Autism Society of Texas.

    • She likes data-driven solutions, inclusive communities and Broadway Musicals.

    • She is especially interested in creating inclusive communities, educating others about disability rights, and helping people with autism lead productive, healthy, happy lives.

    • “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

    SUZANNE P.
    TxSER Allies

    Suzanne Shepherd
    • DOWN SYNDROME ASSOCIATION OF CENTRAL TEXAS

    • Suzanne is an attorney, parent of a young man with Down syndrome who attends a college program, and board member of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas and Adults Independent and Motivated.

    • She likes helping parents understand their students' legal and educational rights, high expectations, and gardening.

    • She is especially interested in the rights of students with intellectual disabilities to make academic progress, especially in reading comprehension.

    • “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

    SUZANNE S.
    State & Federal Policy

    If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
    — JOHN LEWIS, FORMER FREEDOM FIGHTER
     
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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.

    Copyright 2017 Texans for Special Education Reform. All rights reserved.       TxSER Privacy Policy.