Senator Lucio's Letterhead

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2009
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

SENATE APPROVES SEN. LUCIO’S BILL GIVING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES A BETTER OUTLOOK
PROVIDES SPECIALIZED TRAINING INSTITUTES FOR TEACHERS

AUSTIN, TX — Today the Texas Senate joined Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. in improving the educational outlook of children with disabilities, particularly autism, by voting for his bill that will give teachers and paraprofessionals the latest and best training available. Senators Florence Shapiro, Leticia Van de Putte and Judith Zaffirini are co-authors of the bill.

Senate Bill 100 directs the Commissioner of Education to develop specialized institutes to provide intensive training to educators who teach students with disabilities so they can implement the latest, research-based education practices in their classrooms. These institutes are modeled after Texas' highly successful reading academies.

"Many of our Texas teachers are currently underprepared and overwhelmed in their efforts to educate children with disabilities who are federally mandated to spend part or all of their school day in regular classrooms," explained Sen. Lucio. "SB 100 would ensure that the content of the training is up-to-date, research-based and disability-specific so teachers can address the needs of their particular students."

Most teachers are not receiving specialized training beyond three semester hours in college, and must rely on in-service and on-the-job training. The availability and quality of teacher training programs vary drastically across the state.

Modeled after Texas' highly successful reading academies, the institutes would adequately train teachers and paraprofessionals for greater classroom success all students. The training would be voluntary and carry stipends upon completion. In addition, other sources of funding, like stimulus money, can be used to implement the bill.

"SB 100 supports all teachers who work with children with disabilities, but especially those who teach autistic kids because autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the nation," said Sen. Lucio. "One out of 150 children is diagnosed in the United States with autism, so it is critical that we implement this specialized training as soon as possible."

"SB 100 will increase the academic achievement of ALL students by training teachers in the best practices of instruction and behavior management," added Sen. Lucio. "Furthermore, it will address the concerns of the parents of children with disabilities we frequently hear from who want the best education possible for their children."

The bill is now headed to the House.

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