The Lead

Pa. Department of Education launches disability-inclusive curriculum pilot program

By: - April 5, 2023 7:06 am
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has launched a pilot program to teach K-12 students about the contributions of those with disabilities, hoping to promote inclusivity and understanding among learners.

Schools interested in participating in the Disability Inclusive Curriculum Pilot Program — which aims to promote instruction in schools about the social, political, and historical contributions of people with disabilities — should apply online by 3 p.m. on May 15, 2023, with curriculum implementation beginning at the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

“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,” acting Secretary of Education Khalid Mumin said in a statement on Tuesday.

Successful applicants will receive a maximum of $10,000 annually for three years, running through June 2026.

The pilot program, added to the Pennsylvania Public School Code last year, is the result of a proposal from state Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Allegheny, to “demonstrate the profound, positive impact that disabled individuals have had on our society and work to create a more tolerant and inclusive world,” he said when he first introduced the program.

Advocates also hope the program will reduce the stigma of disability by incorporating the topic into a school-wide strategic plan.

“We look forward to working with schools and districts as they begin to embed disability into classroom lessons and conversations,” Disability Equality in Education Director Alan Holdsworth, who helped advocate for the program’s creation, said.

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