Johnny Collett, nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) responded to questions by Senators during his confirmation hearing on December 5. In his opening statement Collett said, “The mission of the office which I have been nominated to lead is to ‘improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation.’ This mission is consistent with what I believe, how I have led, and, frankly, who I am.” In summary, he shared, “I believe that ALL children, youth, and adults with disabilities in this country deserve an equitable opportunity to be successful in school and beyond. But there is only one way for all to mean “all”. For all to mean ALL, it has to mean EACH. And, to ensure that each child, each youth, and each adult with a disability has equitable access to the opportunities, resources, and supports they need to be successful, requires that we must have different, deep, and sometimes difficult conversations. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I believe we can do that, and do it effectively, in service to individuals with disabilities and their families.”
Collett received questions primarily from Senate democrats on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee centered around full funding of IDEA, waivers under the Every Student Succeeds Act, informing parents that they waive protections under IDEA if they use a voucher to attend a private school, and the timely identification and provision of services for children with dyslexia. Collett’s answer to many of the questions indicated that he would advise the U.S. Secretary of Education consistent with federal law and his expertise and values.
The HELP Committee will now deliberate and vote to advance Collett’s nomination to the full Senate for consideration. Read more on CEC’s position of this nomination here.