Media Contact:
Kim Musheno, Vice President of Public Policy
Autism Society
301-657-0881 ext. 9020
kmusheno@autism-society.org

Autism Advocates Sound Alarm on House Higher Education Bill

Bethesda, Md. (December 12, 2017) – The Autism Society of America is deeply concerned with the  bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act being marked up on the House Education & Workforce Committee today.

The text of the bill — the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act – was released just last week by Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Chair of the education committee and is now being pushed through the House of Representatives without any hearings on the proposal that will impact hundreds of thousands of students nationwide.

While the Autism Society has barely had a chance to review the details of the bill, it is already clear that it does not provide sufficient supports to students with autism and other disabilities.  In fact, in some instances, makes it harder for students with disabilities to navigate life after high school. We are especially concerned that the PROSPER Act:

  • Eliminates programs that support teachers. PROSPER removes all of HEOA’s Title II which included grants that improve teacher quality and incentivize teachers to serve in high-need areas like special education.
  • Fails to include an essential component of the bipartisan RISE Act that would require colleges and universities to accept a student’s individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan as evidence of their disability.
  • Eliminates a grant program that supports faculty who work with students with disability and one that supports accessible materials in college.

“Researchers have projected that 63 percent of all U.S. jobs by 2018 will require some postsecondary education and that 90 percent of new jobs in growing industries with high wages will require, at a minimum, some postsecondary education (National Center on Educational Outcomes, 2013). Youth with autism and other intellectual disabilities have the lowest rates of education, work, or preparation for work after high school of all disability groups,” stated Scott Badesch, Executive Director/CEO.  “We would like to work with the committee to improve higher education opportunities to change this trajectory for students with autism and other disabilities.”

About the Autism Society:
The Autism Society of America, with members across the country, has been improving the lives of all affected by autism for over 50 years and envisions a world where individuals and families living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life, are treated with the highest level of dignity, and live in a society in which their talents and skills are appreciated and valued. We provide advocacy, education, information and referral, support, and community at national, state and local levels through our strong nationwide network of Affiliates.