Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cross "Testify before a Senate Committee" off my bucket list!

Senator Florence ShapiroI had the opportunity on Tuesday to testify before a Texas Senate Committee on Education about a series of new bills designed to give Autistic students and parents more and better options within the public school system. Senator Florence Shapiro (pictured) authored many of these bills, and many parents and children will benefit from her dedication and support in helping families dealing with Autism.

The main bill was sb 2204, and it seeks to offer parents and educators the option of using private therapy centers as a resource for Autistic children who are at risk for institutionalization. The bill would allow parents and schools to collaborate with private therapy centers to help develop behaviors and skills necessary for independent living in Autistic kids in an effort to prevent them from being institutionalized at a later date, thereby becoming an even greater strain on the government and taxpayers.

The Teachers Union, as well as the Board of Education were not at all happy with this bill, and presented it as a glorified voucher program. The Plano ISD even sent in a ringer to testify before the committee. A woman came to the podium, introduced herself, and then proceeded to tell the committee that she was the parent of two Autistic children, and she was against this bill. She finished her speech, and then Senator Shapiro lowered the boom on her! Apparently the lady was paid to make the trip and speak against the bill, and her two Autistic kids actually have Asperger's Syndrome, a form of Autism that is extremely high functioning and typically not at risk for institutionalization. In short, the lady's testimony was dishonest and represented the kinds of dirty tricks that the educational system will play in order to protect the status quo. I applaud Senator Shapiro for sniffing out their scheme and calling them on it!

I spoke briefly about my son's battle with Autism, and made the committee aware of a philosophy that drives my wife and I as we seek to help little Pierce. Our philosophy is to do whatever it takes to give our son the BEST shot at a BRIGHT future. My question to the committee was, "Do you believe that the educational system in Texas has the manpower, the resources and the training to give my son the best shot at a bright future, and if you were in my shoes, would you settle for anything less?" I told them that the way they answered that question would determine the way they voted on this bill. I'm praying for them as they weed through all the details and distractions. I hope you'll pray for them as well.

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