Joint letter from Cinda Klickna, President, Illinois Education Association, and Dan Montgomery, President, Illinois Federation of Teachers.
The IFT, IEA and our members oppose the State Board’s proposed 226.730 Staffing Plan.
We believe in providing students with disabilities access to the most effective and appropriate education within the least restrictive environment.
We further believe all students should be provided a classroom environment which allows for effective teaching and learning.
We do not believe these revisions to Part 226.730 will accomplish these goals, but rather will allow district-level decisions to place teachers in a position where they cannot provide all necessary services to their students.
Even though Illinois is in a financial crisis, our focus as a state should be to provide basic statewide protections and the best possible services to all students, both general education students and students with disabilities.
Our focus should be to make educationally sound decisions. The State Board’s proposed Staffing Plan is not educationally sound and represents cuts at the expense of students’ education.
It is all too likely that too many of Illinois’ 860-plus school districts – many in desperate financial straits due to prorated General State Aid and potentially declining tax revenues – will see this change as a route to further cost savings at the expense of teaching, learning and student outcomes.
This is a change Illinois cannot afford to make and a message the State Board cannot afford to send.
The proposed rule provides that each local staffing plan, which ISBE hopes will take effect in the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, removes any consistent, statewide minimum baseline for class size as it relates to students with disabilities.
The state has signaled clearly in the last few years that there is a need for strong, consistent statewide expectations in other things like Common Core and PERA so that all school districts have to meet a rigorous minimum which our members and districts are strenuously working to properly implement.
Replacing the current state expectations for class size with over 860 vastly differing staffing plans across the state sends a contradictory message to school districts and our members, while placing a substantial added burden on teaching and learning that would have a significant negative impact our students.
The IFT and IEA stand strong in our commitment to promote statewide protections and much-needed financial resources for school districts to ensure our members and the students we serve are provided a learning environment for success.
We support the ISBE waiver deviation request process that is already in place. This process allows school districts to request a deviation from the 70/30 rule.
As a part of that process, special education and general education teachers are required to complete an assessment. This ensures that our teachers have direct input into critical educational decisions and allows for flexibility for districts. ISBE can hold districts accountable, teachers are involved, and the needs of all students are met.
Therefore, we recommend the State Board to maintain the statewide class size protections of Part 226.730, rather than replace them with the weak proposal for each district to have a Staffing Plan.
You can oppose the elimination of State special ed class size limits by sending an e-mail to email@example.com urging the Members of the Board of ISBE at their meeting on Jan. 22/23 in Springfield to oppose the proposed new 226.730, local school
district Staffing Plan for special ed.
– Bev Johns