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Pennsylvania introduces program to educate students on disability inclusion

children painting in the school
A lesson in creativity in elementary school in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Dreamstime

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced the creation of a Disability Inclusive Curriculum Pilot Program to instruct K-12 students on the political, economic, and social contributions of individuals with disabilities. Under the program, schools can apply for up to $30,000 in grant funding to implement disability inclusive curriculum.

“In Pennsylvania, we are focused on ensuring every student has access to the educational resources they need, no matter their race, gender identity, language, or background,” said Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “By teaching our children about influential individuals with disabilities, such as Harriet Tubman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Stephen Hawking, and Michael J. Fox, we can demonstrate the profound, positive impact that individuals with disabilities have on our society and create a more tolerant and inclusive world.”

PDE is requesting applications from public school entities and non-public schools interested in developing or expanding focused efforts and experiences to engage in the pilot program. Applications must be submittedOpens In A New Window by 3:00 PM on Monday, May 15, 2023. Schools can implement the new curriculum beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

Funding will be granted to successful applicants for a three-year period from the date of the award through June 30, 2026. A maximum of $10,000 per year is available to each school entity or non-public school entity.

The Disability Inclusive Curriculum Pilot Program, added to the Pennsylvania Public School Code last summer, is intended to promote topics and subject matter for instruction to all students, will help learners understand that disability is a natural part of the human condition, and will emphasize the critical contributions of individuals with disabilities.

Disability Equality in Education led the effort to create legislation for disability inclusive curriculum, and its Director Alan Holdsworth said, “We look forward to working with schools and districts as they begin to embed disability into classroom lessons and conversations.”

The program will impact the overall culture and environment of schools by reducing the stigma of disability by including disability as a part of a school-wide strategic plan.

Governor Shapiro believes that the foundation for building strong and safe communities starts with an adequate and equitable public education system. His 2023-24 budget is the first step toward a comprehensive solution to improve our public schools, push education dollars out equitably, support our teachers, and invest in targeted solutions that meet students’ needs at every level.

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