Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more
Raleigh, NC, Sept. 16 – Incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Tillis’ responses follows:
1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed strain and major disruptions on our children, parents, teachers, and communities in North Carolina. That is why one of my highest priorities during this pandemic has been to secure emergency relief funds for our schools and students. I worked to secure $13.2 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for K-12 schools and students and an additional $3 billion in flexible emergency block grants designed to enable state governments to decide how best to meet the needs of their students and school districts. These funds are already being used in North Carolina to support the academic needs of at-risk students and students with disabilities through additional in-school support, after-school programming, tutoring, and hiring more teachers and teacher assistants to serve our special needs student population.
I believe that the opportunity to work and pursue self-sufficiency plays a critical role in giving students with disabilities the critical skills needed to compete in a job-driven economy. We must work to ensure that students, including those with disabilities, have the skills and tools needed to find high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand jobs, which is why I was a strong supporter of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. I am working in coordination with our school districts, the Department of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education as they work to get students back to receiving stable and reliable education during this unprecedented time and I will continue to advocate for the needs of our students during this pandemic.