The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) voted 5
to 1 (Vinni Hall voted no) to put out for public comment
rules that would completely eliminate limits on special
education class size.
The proposed rules would mean there would be NO state limit
on the number of students a special education teacher
is required to serve.
Also there would be NO state limit on the number of students
with disabilities a general education teacher has in their classroom.
While most of the testimony before ISBE was predictable
(administrator groups in favor of repealing all these state rules –
“another mandate” that we “cannot afford” – and teacher and
parent groups opposed), much of the discussion was on the state
rule defining a “general education” classroom as one in which
no more than 30 percent of the students have an IEP.
By law, these proposed rule changes were presented to the
Illinois State Advisory Council (ISAC) on the Education of
Children with Disabilities. They voted 9 to 4 to OPPOSE
the eliminination of the 30 percent limit in a general ed class.
But after the ISAC Chair, Beth Conran, informed ISBE of that
9 to 4 vote to OPPOSE, she stated that she personally was in
SUPPORT of eliminating the 30 percent limit.
ISAC took NO vote on eliminating all the special ed class size
limits as it appears they spent their time fighting over the
30 percent limit for general ed.
Judy Hackett, presenting testimony for the special education
administrators (IAASE), stated they supported local control
and that Response to Intervention (RTI) meant that we “move
away from disability labels.”
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Let everyone know what is happening.
ISBE released the proposed rule changes on its website
the afternoon before the vote. A parent who testified
said he found out about it at midnight.
(2) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
(3) Contact your State Representative and State Senator
in Springfield to tell them what ISBE is attempting to do.
Be prepared to offer public comment on the proposed
rules, although there is no guarantee that ISBE will
change course unless they are forced to do so.
Bev Johns, Chair
ISELA – Illinois Special Education Coalition
And this from the CTU:
On Wednesday, February 20, 2013, the Illinois State Board of Education voted to authorize public comment on proposed changes to Part 226.730 and Part 226.731 of ISBE’s rules. Effectively these proposed changes would lift class size restrictions on what constitutes the definition of a general education classroom, allowing local districts to decide class makeups.
CTU’s 2012–2015 Contract includes new language that empowers our members to advocate for special education students. We can now use the grievance procedure to resolve situations in which CPS is not providing sufficient resources or acceptable class sizes to meet federal or state regulations. Any weakening of such regulations hurts our special needs students and our ability to stand up for them.
Representatives from Chicago Teachers Union, Access Living, Equip for Equality, Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers all testified in opposition to the rule. School Management (Principals, School Boards, Administrators) along with IAASE testified in support. Click here to read the testimony of CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, herself a special education teacher, opposing the rule change. Click here to read the testimony of Cynthia Riseman, Political Director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
The proposed Rule Change will be published in the Illinois Register on March 8, 2013. The proposal’s publication begins a 45-day public comment period. CTU will provide an Action Page at that point, to make it easier for our members and the public to submit comments.
A link to the State Board’s materials on this topic (including the actual proposed language changes) can be accessed by clicking here. The relevant section begins on page 11. The State Board rules are found in Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code.