The Consortium is pleased to announce the premiere of its latest video in the “Voices of Change” series, an interview with Kate Bayer. As a graduate student in special education at Clarion University in the early 1970s, Kate spent nine months teaching school-age children at Polk State Center, an institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Venango County. Her assignment to Polk followed the 1972 Pennsylvania judicial decree which guaranteed–for the first time–the “Right to Education” for children with disabilities. The video, embedded below, is permanently archived on our Media Items page.
At Polk, Kate witnessed a troubling environment. Committed to making sure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were treated with dignity and respect, Kate went on to work in community-based disability services for 28 years.
Kate’s account of teaching at Polk State Center, her observations about the treatment of residents, and her life-long commitment to people with disabilities is part of Western Pennsylvania disability history. Kate, a long-time resident of the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, passed away in March 2021 at the age of 70.