The DeSoto, Texas, which is 10 minutes

The
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services
to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs “how states
and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related
services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and
youth with disabilities” (U.S Department of Education, 2017 pp. 1). According
to the National Center of Education Statistics, in 1975, the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education for All
Handicapped Children Act, mandated the provision of a free and appropriate
public-school education for eligible children and youth ages 3–21.

The
IDEA provides protection for eligible children and youth that have been identified
by a team of professionals as having a disability that adversely affects
academic performance and as needing special education and related services.
Even though, a child may be struggling, a student must be identified as 1
and/or more of the 13 categories. However, data collection for these services
was not monitored for compliance until 1976 (NCES, 2017).

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As
a Special Education Teacher in the public-school system, I have noticed changes
regarding the assistance for Special Education states. In these past few
months, the State of Texas has been exposed to not allowing children an
opportunity to receive the necessary academic support to be successful. It is
illegal to not provide the adequate services to a child. Therefore, as an
advocate I had arranged a meeting with an elected official.

To
arrange a meeting with an elected official. One must identify the district in
which they reside. I reside in DeSoto, Texas, which is 10 minutes outside of
Dallas, Texas. My residence is considered Dallas County District 30. According
to Texas Government national website, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson would
be my elected official for the House of Representatives as well as, Senator
Royce West. Therefore, by scheduling a meeting with Senator Royce West, I was
able to discuss my concerns regarding the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA).  According to the
U.S Department of Education (2017), “Advocates for kids with disabilities just
saw a key bill fly through both chambers, which would stop the state from
capping special education services at 8.5 percent of students.” Those key bills
have caused an issue for the State of Texas with the federal government. My
advocacy is regarding House Bill 21, which states, “adding funding for dyslexia
students.” It is projected to not go far in the Senate as it requires money.

Arranging
the visit was challenging for me at first as I was having a tough time speaking
with someone. After several attempts, I was finally told that Senator West was
in Austin and Congresswoman Johnson will not be in the Dallas office until
Mid-August. As that would be too late to do a face to face meeting. I was
fortunate to be placed with West Chief of Staff, LaJuana Barton. Ms. Barton was
a very kindred spirit. I was welcomed with much gratitude and respect. During
my visit, myself and Ms. Barton discussed the many accomplishments and
sponsorships of Senator Royce West. Senator Royce West has been elected to his
fourth term to Senate however, been involved in politics since 1993. I was
enlightened by the many accomplishments Senator West has been acknowledged for.
Senator West is a part of four departmental committees, Education to be one.
Senator West is influential in the city of Dallas along with Dallas County as
he has been credited with numerous wins. During the 2009 Legislative Session,
Senator West showcased his mass support for helping children and families by
passing the legislation that made a connection care program whereby qualified
relative can receive state support to assist raising children who could
otherwise become part of the foster care system (Senator Royce West, District
23).

After
a few minutes of formal and persuasive introductions, I presented my viewpoint,
House Bill 21. The bill had been brought to Senator West already as he is on
the Education committee for the Senate. Nevertheless, Ms. Barton was widely
impressed by the extensive research and detailed facts that was provided. The
impeccable statistics and current and past bills that did not fully address the
issues of special education students needs for instance, Senate bill 748 and
House Bill 61 which refers to allocate more services to special needs students
and academic recognition for district special needs students.

Ms.
Barton explained that Senator West is a proud supporter of equality, family and
children. Senator West is aware of the House Bill 21. Currently, it is still
within the House and he is waiting for it to pass down the floor. According to
the Legislative scan, House Bill 21 is mainly supported by State Representative
Dan Huberty (Republican). House Bill 21 is considered a slight partisan bill. Ms.
Barton was surprised that the Republicans were backing the House Bill 21 as it
requires readjusting the Department of Education budget. The current supporters
of House Bill 21 are 16-8; 16 Republicans and 8 Democrats. By advocating this
bill, I plan to let the voices of my special needs students be heard. There have
been numerous bills as I have stated earlier, that have “died” in the House due
to lack of support. I asked that Senator West become a supporter of House Bill
21 therefore, “No Child is Left Behind.” Ms. Barton could not give a definite
answer of Senator West support however, she stated, “if the bill is of interest
to Senator West, he would definitely have it in consideration.”  I thanked Ms. Barton for her gracious time
and looked forward to hearing great news regarding House Bill 21.  Overall, the meeting went extremely well.