Good Morning Chair … and through you to the Committee, My name is Seth Goldberg and I am a Government Affairs Associate at the Jewish Community Relations Council.  JCRC represents a network of forty-two organizations that together, with some 130 synagogues and our members, comprises the organized Jewish community in greater Boston.  Our community is committed to developing and advocating for policies that create a more inclusive Commonwealth for all people. I am here today to speak in support of HB 1064 and SB 672 and the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program.

These bills would address some of the major recommendations set forth by the Task Force on Higher Education for Students with Intellectual Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The ICE program has increased access to higher education opportunities in 50 school districts to date for students with a severe disability ages 18-22. The ten higher education institutions currently participating represents roughly one-third of the available campuses a great start from when the program launched in 2007. However, there are still too many students who could benefit from this program if given the chance. In the eight years since this program began, there has been a demonstrated positive impact from an inclusive college experience in terms of independence at home and better job prospects, the same goals for every student who seeks to further their education. In the end, that is what this program is about – giving all people the opportunity to create a path for their independence and success.

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment which the bills HB 1064 and SB 672, are modeled is proven to be successful in the integration of previously segregated populations into age appropriate situations where they can continue to learn and contribute in a classroom setting. Inclusive programing is something our social service agencies and community groups have included as part of their programming for a number of years creating a job training course for young adults with disabilities, various mentorship opportunities and many other ways designed to create a more accepting and inclusive society.

We strongly believe that improving inclusion in the higher education will translate into a more inclusive workplace. We urge the committee to report out favorably HB 1064 and SB 672. Thank you for your time.