Friday, February 15, 2019

Please Oppose Indiana SB 132



Please contact your Indiana state representative and ask them to oppose SB 132. It has passed the Senate and has been referred to the House of Representatives. If this bill passes, it will require that all high school students pass a civics test in order to get their diploma. As we understand it, the only accommodation that will be made is to allow students extra time to take the test. The test is to be modeled after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services test. A link to that test can be found here:

More information about the bill can be found here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/senate/132

In order to find your state legislator for Indiana please visit: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/.


To read a wonderful article from a parent's perspective, please visit:https://dsindiana-exectivedirector.blogspot.com/2019/02/sb-132-impact-to-students-who-are.html.

SB 132 Impact to Students Who Are Differently-Abled



By Guest Blogger Funmi Ige-Wright 

I am a parent of three girls - one of whom happens to have Down syndrome and is currently in Middle School. It has been a journey partnering with the school system and teachers to understand how best to teach her for understanding. As her parents, we are determined to ensure that she gets a good education just like her peers, and hopefully in the process change our school systems so that they are addressing the needs of ALL students. My research and experience so far, reminds me that when the framework for schooling was put together over a century ago, a child like mine had no place there. Today, the law entitles her a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment and she is learning. That is, until she gets to the tests that provide no context. Over the last year, our state has worked hard to create pathways to a Diploma that children including my daughter, can earn so she can go on to post-secondary education or into the workforce. It will be harder for her than the rest of us, but we are hopeful.


insert photo


The graph shows the testing results for students in this category in Indiana. This brings me to why I am writing this today.

 SB 132 has a good and noble intent. My concern is that it is yet another roadblock to graduation for our students who are differently-abled - especially when it requires not only taking the course but passing the test which tends to be without context (I took the liberty of reviewing the USCIS test).

You see, for many of our students, if given the right framework, context and connections, they learn and do well. But a test with abstract content and no way to make it concrete, is a poor recipe for any success in this category of students. To me, it is another reminder that we keep designing our educational systems for only a subset of our students instead of all. When I raised this concern to some of our senator offices, I was told our students would have more time to do the test, and the accommodations they typically get in Special Education. 

The problem is that - this just provides more time to sit in frustration to look at a test they don't understand. It has no context to connect to and instead, is sure to reduce further the chance of graduating with a diploma. As you know, this is important to getting a decent job beyond as we say in the disability circles: "food, flowers or filth". Our children deserve better.


My suggestions are as follows:
a) Do not tie graduation to passing this Civics test;
b) Make the test one that is designed with Universal Design for Learning as a central framework (NOT the USCIS test); or
c) Add a Civics class to the education curriculum that all have to take without a test requirement.

If knowledge and better understanding is the goal, these 3 options meet the intent without decreasing the ability to graduate for students who already have a difficult life. I would also like to respectfully ask, that going forward, that this body please keep in mind that our student body is made up of all kinds of students and we need to plan, design, create laws and adopt policies that address the needs of ALL students. 

Below is a picture that you may or may not have come across before, but it is a relatively accurate analogy for what our students have to endure. I hope that it will speak to all who see it and that our Senators will offer appropriate amendments to SB 132, which allow our students who are differently-abled, like my daughter to experience success as well.






Tests should be designed with Universal Design for Learning as a central framework.

It has been a journey partnering with the school system and teachers to understand how best to teach her for understanding. As her parents, we are determined to ensure that she gets a good education just like her peers, and hopefully in the process change our school systems so that they are addressing the needs of ALL students. My research and experience so far, reminds me that when the framework for schooling was put together over a century ago, a child like mine had no place there.  Today, the law entitles her a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment and she is learning. That is, until she gets to the tests that provide no context. Over the last year, our state has worked hard to create pathways to a Diploma that children including my daughter, can earn so she can go on to post-secondary education or into the workforce.  It will be harder for her than the rest of us, but we are hopeful.