In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Opening Statement of Johnny Collett, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, December 5, 2017
Now, I expect that we will talk about a number of things today, and I’m looking forward to responding to your questions. But I want to be honest about something from the beginning. . . Regardless of the particular matters at hand or the specific issues that we may discuss, the lens through which I will process and respond to your questions will be that of the child, the student,or the adult with a disability, and what will ensure that they have an equitable opportunity to be successful. While we all – individually and as a nation - have a stake in the success of children, youth, and adults with disabilities, no one has more of a stake in their success than they do. This will be my lens today, and each day that I serve in this role, if confirmed.
Before I began my career as an educator, I was a church pastor for about ten years. While a different role, to be sure, it was during those years that my commitment to individuals, their particular strengths and diverse needs, and the supports that would help them achieve the life they envisioned, was firmly established. That commitment continued to be shaped as I began my career in public education. I came into the teaching profession through an alternative route. In fact, I began my education career as an emergency certified teacher. I quickly achieved full certification and have continued since then to be guided daily by a growing and intense focus on individuals with disabilities and their families, their strengths and needs, and how we best support them to achieve the outcomes that we, and most importantly they, envision.