The Institute's Executive Director Sally Gould-Taylor and Associate Director of Policy, Jamie Ray-Leonetti are members of the Coalition on Disability Inclusive Curriculum. Ray-Leonetti, along with self-advocate and Institute program alumnus Shawn Aleong, offered testimony at a House Special Education Subcommittee hearing explaining the importance of adopting a disability inclusive curriculum in Pennsylvania.
Now on Governor Wolf's desk for signing, Pennsylvania's 2022-2023 State Budget establishes in its Education Fiscal Code (HB 1642 - Act 55 of 2022) a pilot program to provide a disability inclusive curriculum for students in grades K-12. The curriculum will include instruction on the political, economic, and social contributions of individuals with disabilities.
Please read the press release from Coalition for Disability Inclusive Curriculum for more information:
INVISIBLE NO MORE
PA Legislators Set Precedent for Inclusion of Disabled People's History, Culture & Contributions in the Curriculum
PENNSYLVANIA, July 8, 2022
Disabled people across the state of Pennsylvania are celebrating a historic piece of legislation that will bring disabled people's history, contributions, experience and culture into the K-12 Curriculum.
The Disability Inclusive Curriculum was included in the education code and was overwhelmingly passed by the House and Senate on Friday and is on the Governor's desk for signing.
The legislation sets up a 3 year pilot in schools to test out the curriculum followed by a statewide rollout once approved by the state and disabled people. It promises that the curriculum will be created by organizations at least 50% controlled by disabled people.
Pennsylvania will be the first state to introduce disability into the curriculum in this comprehensive way.
Alan Holdsworth, Director of Disability Equality in Education (DEE) could only dream of this day when in 2017 he began the work of advocating for the creation of curriculum that would be inclusive of disability. He says, "This is landmark legislation and DEE cannot wait to work with the Department of Education in creating and testing a disability led curriculum."
Disability Equality in Education stands ready with their web site of lessons and other resources which were vetted by disabled people that teachers are freely accessing.
Lisa Aquilla said "I want to thank my State Representative Joe Hohenstein and his colleague Representative Jason Ortitay for their wonderful support. I was only a pebble in the water and I made a ripple to start the process but it's collectively that we will make a wave. Thank you for recognizing and valuing the voices of our Community and Coalition as the important key that turns this tide."
Not only were we so pleased that the Disability Inclusive Curriculum Legislation was included in the Education Code last week, the fact that the Department of Education is committed to selecting curriculum that has been "offered by organizations with 50% or greater disabled leadership" speaks volumes.
The fact that the House Education Committee, Congress and the Department of Education recognize the importance of this work being developed with people with disabilities as partners is what the mantra "Nothing About Us Without Us" centers on.
Kathy Brill from PA TASH, a key member of the Coalition on Disability Inclusive Curriculum (CODIC), said "it takes a village to do this. We built up a strong statewide coalition to get the word out about this legislation and we did it. We won! All children learning about disability will create a more tolerant and equitable society."
Sharon Pennock, one of the organizers of CODIC, said "This is such an exciting day! Disabled people will no longer be invisible in children's education. Thank you to all who made this possible."
Nikhil Kishore, a rising junior in high school and member of the coalition who co-authored an article earlier this year about the importance of the missing component from his experience as a disabled student, a disability inclusive curriculum, said, "To me the passage of this legislation means that more children will be exposed to the subject of disabilities and this will help build for a better world in which all are equal regardless of their identity."
To view the complete wording of the legislation: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hn-ZiYlgZ67zhlOIVwzODW6a9_SHj