Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill making it possible for nonpublic schools to include technology-based learning materials in the curriculum for students with special needs.
The bill passed the state Assembly (76-0) and the Senate (34-0) with unanimous bipartisan support. Introduced by Assembly Member Joe Coto (D-San Jose), AB 1742 will expand the kinds of "technology" permitted in the classroom for students with special needs who attend nonpublic schools. Working with Assembly Member Coto, staff and students from Spectrum Center Schools and Programs presented the bill to the California State Legislature to demonstrate their public support for its adoption.
"We are delighted the Spectrum bill has passed and that students with special needs can now have access to the kind of technology that will help them advance academically," said Coto, a former public school teacher and superintendent. "It is both fair and vital that students with special needs who attend California nonpublic schools have access to the same resources as their peers. As a leader in special education, Spectrum Center and its students should be congratulated for advocating on behalf of all students in California."
The new law, which is supported by the California State PTA, provides an opportunity for nonpublic, nonsectarian schools to incorporate the use of technology when customizing teaching strategies and curriculum for students with special needs such as autism spectrum disorders, pervasive developmental disorders and developmental delays. In other states, technology-based learning tools have been shown to help students learn skills for use in future jobs and in independent living.
"Many Spectrum students participated in the process of developing and supporting this bill and they are genuinely invested in the new law," said Amy Crye, assistant vice president of Autism Services for Spectrum Center Schools and Programs. "Their challenges can make reading and writing difficult so they know the value of this bill and they found the hands-on lesson in working with state government very meaningful. Most important, they know they created real change that will positively impact the education of other California students with special needs."
Spectrum Center's state-certified nonpublic schools and public school integrated collaborative classrooms provide special education services to students ages five to 22 with a wide array of special needs, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), developmental delays, behavioral challenges, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) and emotional disturbance.