Act to stop proposed special ed changes

State Illinois SealThe Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)  has voted to propose elimination of its rule, Section 226.730, which limits the number of special education students which can be placed in both general education and special education classrooms. If ISBE’s proposal becomes law, it would mean there would be no state limit on the number of students with disabilities that school districts could place in either type of classroom.

IEA opposes the elimination of the Section for at least the following reasons:

  • IEA believes that the current rule should not be changed because the existing rule serves as a parameter for class size ratios.
  • IEA believes the current rule serves as a protection for our teachers from unnecessary and arbitrary class assignments.
  • IEA also believes that the current 70/30 ratio helps to ensure that all students receive the appropriate support and accommodations to achieve academic success.

We all know that class size matters most for those students who have special needs. One of our biggest concerns is that students continue to receive the necessary support to be successful.

Please take a few minutes and send an email or (or a regular mail letter) for public comment to oppose these changes. Let the State Board know how these changes will negatively impact the learning of general and special education students in your  classroom

Send your comments to ISBE. DON’T POST THEM HERE. The deadline is April 22, 2013. Send your comment now:

Email address: rules@isbe.net

Mailing address: Shelley Helton Agency Rules Coordinator, 100 North 1st Street-S-493 Springfield, Illinois 62777

Watch a video with IEA Director of Government Relations , Jim Reed.

Click here to read the Rule as proposed: http://www.isbe.net/rules/proposed/pdfs/226wf.pdf

Comments

  1. Paul Carr says:

    This is an example of a decision made by non-educators, sold to the public as “in the best interest of students,” when it is really going to damage the delivery of educational services to those students who most need help. Our legislators have ignored their fiscal responsibilities for years. Power certainly brings home the financial bacon for individual legislators. However no one will stand up to speak out for the people of Illinois. And so teachers are blamed, educationally unsound decisions are made for financial reasons and foisted off as a good thing, and then teachers will be blamed again when performance falls further below standards. When will legislators stop trying to get reelected and start trying to actually help the people of Illlinois? Isn’t that supposed to be what democracy is about? Or maybe I am just too naive at 58 years of age. Where are the leaders and statesmen? Where is the media to tell the truth about abandoned responsibility? We need to find them soon.

  2. Kevin Morton says:

    The text of my letter:
    Regarding the special ed changes proposed by ISBE: I find the proposal to be both cruel and insidious. There can be no valid reasoning behind this other than an effort to save the state money. As anyone associated with education already knows, the protections offered by an IEP are only relevant for those parents who are involved enough and savvy enough to ‘fight the system’ for their child’s rights. Overburdened or unaware parents do not have the resources necessary to advocate for their children effectively, thus it is easier to deny them appropriate access to education. 

    His rule change will result in larger class sizes, overburdened general education staff, student’s inappropriately placed and supported in “inclusion” settings, and throwaway classes of self-contained rooms that are over-populated, under-staffed, unsafe, and devoid of anything resembling learning.

    Overly pessimistic and dire? Sorry, that’s ALREADY been occurring for the last several years, even with the class size regulations. 

    The special ed class size mandates are often the only protection these students have for even a fighting chance of learning.

    The state is aware of this, of course, but it has reasoned that the cost of lawsuits for inadequately providing adequate education is less than the cost of adequately providing learning opportunities. 

    It’s the corporate model of education.

    To the Board, If you wish to save money, at least have the honesty and forthrightness to admit that that is your purpose. To actively seek to harm the most vulnerable in our society and then claim ‘it’s for their own good” is truly despicable. 

    Kevin Morton
    Special Education teacher with 20 years of experience

  3. This is no offense to any of you. However, you have no idea what this is really all about. What is going on here is removing a barrier that will allow more charter schools. We all know, and there is gobs of evidence to support, that charter schools have no special ed, or very limited special ed. services. The proliferation of more charters is already taking place and many of them are “for profit corporations.” So, where are all the children with IEPs going to go? No where. They will remain in the public schools where they are now. The school districts won’t be able to afford paying a teacher anymore for a classroom of only a hand-full of children. They will be forced to go to a full inclusion model while the charter schools will suck more and more money from the system.

  4. Concerned parent says:

    My child has been affected by the changes not too long ago and let me tell everyone here that there is room for error and possible law suits to come if these changes were to officially take effect! My child has medical issues as well as minor delays and was placed within his school district a few years ago. The principal of his school harassed and abused my child for his differences on a daily basis (even when he was at doctors appointments receiving medical treatment). After his teacher quit, the principal pressured the new teacher to harrass and neglect my child by teasing him for the way he looks, leaving him in the classroom alone, and the principal was getting physically abusive! After consulting with his doctors and letting them know what is happening at school they were appalled and we all agreed to remove him from this environment! My child’s feelings were obviously hurt and having endured such torture and spending time in the hospital (result of abuse) it only made him more unhealthy. Thankfully the principal and teacher admitted everything that they had done to my son at one of his IEP meetings! Thank God that everyone at the meeting heard them admit how terrible they were to my then 6 year old child including my school districts attorney! Today my child is back at his special education cooperative school and is with a teacher who loves and understands him and his educational and medical needs. So my long story has a point in that it happened to my kid and god forbid but it can happen to yours! Do not let this happen to OUR children!

  5. I am a paraprofessional I find it hard for Special Ed students to ask for help in the regular Ed classrooms now. They are embarrassed to leave the room to get tests read. they do not like to be singled out. I think they would be more comfortable in the Sp. Ed. classrooms like they were years ago. They would be getting more attention and accepting more help from the paraprofessionals. They could work at a slower pace and get to know the basics of math instead of the harder math that our schools are teaching. I see Seniors that can’t even do basic multiplication or division. I feel our students need more help….

  6. So this is how the school districts are planning on saving money. I’d love to hear them explain this one. It sounds to me like after cutting close to half of the aides, they want to combine all the special needs students into one classroom per grade, with one aide co-teaching in that class. THIS is what they call “Least Restrictive Environment?!?” My blood is BOILING right now! All these years, every IEP meeting, every 3-yr reeval meeting, every meeting in between, receiving a copy of Parent’s Rights every time, and they want to sweep it all under the rug now because they don’t have enough money. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read between the lines, folks. This isn’t about making it better for the kids or the teachers. This is about money.

    How about reevaluating all of the higher-up, non-teaching positions? I bet a LOT of money could be saved there, without hurting the kids who already struggle to make their way in life.
    These teachers work their butts off and CARE about my kids! I understand administration is pinched but TAKING SUPPORTS AWAY FROM THE KIDS WHO THEY WERE DEVELOPED FOR IS NOT THE ANSWER!!! You’d better believe I’ll be at the next school board meeting.

    • Laura,
      This is NOT coming from the school districts!! This is a proposal from the Illinois State Board of Education. At least the districts that I know of are not in support! Find out your district’s position before being upset with your school board.

  7. Gayle Gerson says:

    The State needs to figure out how to get more teachers, not fewer. I think this is a terrible idea. Unfair to special education students as well as regular and gifted students. The change will hurt all students!

  8. Maria Wise says:

    Rhode Island did this in 2008, eliminating the caps. They still have to follow IEPs and provide FAPE.

  9. kimburwell says:

    I know I want to help I really love all these kids. If it happens we will need other compassionate helpers.

  10. Monte Jo Clark says:

    This rule change is not about increasing class SIZE, as most of these posts address. It is about eliminating the restrictions on the RATIO of IEP to non IEP kids. As an administrator at a ful inclusion school, my teachers and I see this as a positive, not a negative. With our student enrollment being very small, we now will not have to worry about violating the limit and will be able to expose all students to the environment and instruction they are entitled to.

    • Monte Jo Clark says:

      I also am in disagreement with the statement above that “We all know that class size matters most for those students who have special needs.” I know no such thing. I have watched special ed students thrive in a large class. It all comes down to good leadership and support for the teachers.

      • Monte, it is totally unrealistic to take what you’re experiencing and extrapolate it out to the all schools. I work at a grade 3 -5 school and I can tell you from talking to other teachers, aides, school social workers and psychologist, your situation sounds like the exception NOT the rule. Instead of making some broad sweeping changes that would highly detrimental to a majority of Spec. Ed students in the state, maybe the ISBE add some sort of addendum to cover school with small enrollment.

    • Daniel Cox says:

      I am not sure how you can say it is not about increasing class size. Getting rid of the 70/30 ratio would absolutely increase class sizes and eliminate many teaching positions. Inclusion is good for students only if it meets the Least Restrictive Environment. This opens up the doors for many local school boards to make the decisions based on money rather than the affected students. You may have a great situation at your school and should be commended for such, but unfortunately it is not like that everywhere.

  11. I agree with everyones responses! Resources for our children have been limited for quite some time and it isn’t fair to crowd our children and our teachers with more children whom also needs individualized attention! It takes a lot of time to make sure these kids get fair amounts of education, therapy, and life skills all within a nurturing environment. I don’t think that any children should be put through anything less than the best educational environment possible and as for our teachers deserve higher pay and more respect!

  12. Concerned says:

    We dont need this bill to be illuminated. We need the IEPS to be reevaluated. Many of the students need what this offers them. There are many children sitting in classes that don’t want to be there. They want to be in regular classes.

  13. Daniel W. Cox says:

    As special educators, it is our responsibility to provide the most individualized instruction, in the least restrictive environment. We are required to balance numerous things such as behavior management, social/emotional episodes, hunger, mal-nourishment, bullying, lack of proper clothing and a number of other issues on a daily basis and that is without mentioning modifying the curriculum and adapting lessons to individual students to ensure the success of each student. If class size limits were eliminated, that would open up schools to cut teachers, increase class sizes and therefore destroy the classroom learning experience for children with special needs. If you ask any teacher across the country, the absolute best resource for making decisions about the classroom, you would be hard pressed to find anyone agree that eliminating class sizes are a good idea. Please save special education, and save thousands of jobs and drop this idea of increasing class sizes. It would damage the education of our youth, it would destroy teacher psyche, and it would create a dangerous atmosphere in our schools.

  14. Jackie Alberico says:

    This is insanity…Special needs students will no longer get the “special” attention they so deserve. As a classroom para educator I can barely keep up with the needs of students in class sizes of 10 to 14 students. There’s not enough cracks for students to fall through if this goes through. How much more can be squeezed out of educators, enough is enough!!!

  15. Concerned Mom says:

    Changing this would benefit no one! Both “regular” students and special needs students would end up getting left behind. Teachers have enough going on in the classroom and too many students as it is! VOTE NO!!!

  16. Casey S. says:

    This is something that can not be changed. We already suffer from growing class sizes and an overload on teachers expected to balance out a classroom. Not to mention the many children that get missed and should have an IEP in place but due to whatever reason they do not. Special ed students need to be in general classes for both them and for others to learn that there are differences between people. I feel sorry for teachers if this goes through.

  17. Nannette Weegar says:

    This is ridiculous. Please think of the kids that need extra help.

  18. Vote against this new rule, this would be a bad situation for all children. We must all stand up against this.

  19. This is not what is best for our children!!!! Vote no!

  20. Hrisi P says:

    I have started a petition on Change.org regarding this issue. As a parent of a child with special needs I do not want to see any changes. Please take a moment to sign this petition.
    http://www.change.org/petitions/illinois-state-board-of-education-not-to-lift-cap-amounts-for-special-ed-students?utm_campaign=share_button_mobile&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

    Thanks

  21. Dan Weegar says:

    This is irresponsible and NOT GOOD. Please everyone Vote No!

  22. Cheryl Coontz says:

    This sets education back 40 years. It dismisses Least Restrictive Environment as well as the rights of the disabled. Please reconsider this!

  23. Beth Ewoldt says:

    Please think about this carefully. These students need to have the best possible chance in a regular education classroom. If they are put into classes where the numbers are too large, they will disappear and not feel successful. This will also spread the teacher on the amount of different services he/she will need to be giving in the classroom. The class size and ratio has been set up to help all students, not just special education students. Leave it alone!

  24. No!! Our classrooms are large enough .

  25. AgainstInclusion says:

    Vote NO! There already shouldn’t be SE kids in general classrooms. It’s too stressful for them and too distracting for the general students. Many of these students have SEVERE disabilities and school is really just daycare for them. There isn’t much “education” besides perhaps learning how to deal with social situations. My children attend the school in the district that receives ALL the SE kids from the whole district. The classrooms need to be limited. Many of these students need a 1-on-1 aid to prevent them from hurting themselves of others. (My daughter has been attacked by 3 SE kids on separate occasions and injured each time) come see what goes on with these students and realize they need individual attention, preferably at a separate facility!

    • While I understand your concerns regarding inclusion on your district I feel that you are coming off extreme in your views. To say that no special education students should be allowed in the regular education classroom sets our society back a hundred years as there is a whole spectrum of disabilities and not all need to be in a restrictive environment.

    • Dear AgainstInclusion,
      I agree with Hrisi. Extreme view of children with special needs, quite stereotypical in fact. My daughter (8 years old) has a child in her class room of 24 students that has special needs. The child is confined to a wheelchair so every morning the child enters the classroom with classmates already seated. Sure, this may sound distracting to the other classmates but is no different than a child that may come in on crutches or with a cast on their arm. They require additional support and attention. As a class, they have all embraced this child and are learning at an early age that each human being on this earth is a blessing, differences and all. Each child’s development should be assessed indepently and if the child is able to participate in a ‘regular education classroom’, the child shouldn’t be excluded. Regardless of the childs abilities, I agree with your vote to this proposal, not because I don’t think children with special needs should be limited from participating in a ‘regular’ classroom but because I agree that some children with intellectual disabilities need greater attention and specific curriculum that they would not receive in a ‘regular’ classroom.

      • Specialeducationrocks says:

        I totally agree with Brooke. Being a special education teacher myself, and PROUD to say that my district has embraced inclusion and has helped ALL children to learn with their very special “Abilities” Not all children learn at the same rate or in the same manner but all children learn. We teach to help children be successful in everything they strive for. I understand that some special needs children do need to be in a more specialized program and we have an obligation to make sure their needs are being taken care of appropriately. However to say that special ed kids shouldn’t be in general ed classrooms is outrageous! They breathe the same air, play the same games, eat the same foods and bleed the same blood. Have an open mind as well as an open heart. Vote NO on this issue!

  26. Lindsay says:

    Vote NO! This is absurd. Our students are already struggling with class sizes. This will only make the learning environment more intense and stressful for the students.

  27. Char Goyke says:

    This is not right. These students need small groups with less distractions. Vote NO,

  28. This decision is irresponsible for the students. I hope parents get wind of this and realize their children will be receiving less education if their students’ class size is unlimited. As an above teacher stated, it’s difficult enough to teach with one aid in class size of 9. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be with a class size of 20.

  29. Detra Jernigan says:

    This is an unfair decision for the students. They are not taking into account how small class size for special education students helps to provide a more individualized education to help them meet their IEP GOALS.

  30. Angie Gorz says:

    This is anbolutely disturbing, and the reason why I dread the transition of my child to a cross-categorical program in our distict in the fall.

  31. Cynthia Bland says:

    This is ridiculous!!! The concept of least restrictive environment would be destroyed. A very bad and irresponsible suggestion!!!

  32. ISBE Supt. Chris Koch says that “These artificial limits are, in some cases, actually keeping students with disabilities out of general education classrooms, limiting their access to the curriculum and instruction they deserve and need to be successful.”
    This statement is completely false and misleading. As a dual-certified special ed and social studies teacher, I have co-taught history classes for 15+ years in Lake County. My current district has been circumventing the 70/30 rule for years. The vast majority of our core gen ed courses this year violate the rule, coupled with increasing enrollment of students with IEPs. One class I co-taught had 22 students and 20 IEPs. I am also vice chair of my IEA Region Council and have gathered data from other region districts that have also been violating ISBEs rules for years. ISBE and Koch would have you believe that the 70/30 rule is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. Reality shows that the problem is so egregious that their new solution is to hide their illegalities by making it legal.

  33. Nicole Nicole says:

    This is frightening! I have a class of 13 and my students hate it! It is impossible in a cross categorical classroom to meet the needs of all your students even with a low number of 9. I struggle daily between behavior issues and severe learning disabilities making me question whether or not my students are receiving the most appropriate education possible for them. As a mother of a child with special needs I struggle even more knowing my child will be in the same situation.

    • Deb Kroeschen says:

      Vote no for this ridiculous proposal. We can’t meet the kids’ needs now the way it is!

  34. Toni Strait says:

    vote no

  35. Laurie Weil says:

    Eliminating Section 226.730 will destroy the concept of least restrictive environment. Without a set parameter, a classroom teacher could be “clustered” which destroys the concept of least restrictive environment. It could also create a classroom where one teacher has fewer students in comparison to her peers because of pull out services. The rule, as it stands, ensures that all teachers have the opportunity to have a blended classroom. Administration doesn’t really care about the ration of special ed students to general ed students; I have personally experienced having my students placed with the wrong teacher over my objections to satisfy boy:girl ratios. Classroom placement should be determined by what is in the best interest of the student in conjunction with a balanced number of students according to high, middle, low, and personalities.

  36. Margaret Dillon says:

    Are you kidding me? I have taught autistic and intellectually disabled for 34 years. My numbers have fluctuated from 16 (20 years ago) to 13 currently. With one para-pro it is difficult to teach this population. I cannot imagine have an unlimited number of students. These children deserve a chance in life. These are the children that you see helping at grocery stores. Don’t handicap them even more by increasing the numbers in a class.

  37. Sue Ellen Jacobs says:

    It is irresponsible for this rule to be changed. Class size is already out of control and increasing the number of students with special needs in an already over crowded class will result in a reduction of learning for all. When a teacher is spread to thin no one wins.