Group Calls For Better Prep For Students With Disabilities


A statewide parent group saysWisconsin needs to do a better job of helping students with disabilitiesget jobs when they finish high school or college.

The director of the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities says fewer than 14 percent of low income Wisconsin students with development disabilities are employed and an even smaller percentage of students with physical disabilities have jobs.

Beth Swedeen told a legislative committee working on improving job opportunities for all high school students the state needs to do a better job of training special ed teachers to help disabled students make the transition from school to work, “I mean a lot of this work is not traditional in the classroom kind of things and teachers are saying we just don’t have the time and we don’t have the basics of how to approach something we haven’t been trained to do, a lot of them really have no ideas about even calling up employers and going out and meeting with them and what to say once you get the meeting.”

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The committee is working on a wide range of possible legislation to improve the programs that prepare students for the work force. The biggest obstacle to any changes is where the money will come from.

Mark Tyler is the president of the Wisconsin Technical College Board. He says currently the funding burden for school to work programs that allow high school students to get job training at technical college falls too heavily on local school boards, “Man it’s hard when you got to write out a check for tuition to the technical colleges. There’s a disincentive on the school districts part even though its state law that they write the check. There’s certainly disincentive to promote that which I think does us all harm.”

The committee meets once more before deciding what bills to propose in the next legislative session.