Friday’s school funding and special education legislative update. Five days to go.

illinois-state-capitol

-Bev Johns

Senate Bill 231 (passed the Senate, now in the House) would change the school funding formulas, but provide NO money. It would change the law, but is NOT an appropriation bill. (But the bill may be dead for this Spring – see below.)

House Bill 3190 (passed Senate Executive Committee, needs to be voted on by both the Senate and the House) would combine SB 231 for ONLY the 2016-2017 school year with the Evidence Based plan for the 2017-2018 school year and later years.

It would change the laws (TWICE in 2 years), but provides NO money as it is NOT an appropriation bill.

Senate Bill 2048 (passed the House, now in the Senate) provides MONEY as it IS an APPROPRIATION bill. It gives $378 MILLION to Chicago Public Schools, provides more money to poorer schools through a new $700 million Equity Grant, $75 million more for Early Childhood programs, and current funding for almost all other school programs (including $9,000 for each special education teacher, each school psychologist, each school nurse, each school social worker who work with students with IEPs).

TODAY, Jim Broadway in the Illinois School News Service, states:

[Speaker] Madigan had the bill [SB 231] assigned to the Executive Committee (which he controls tightly) back on May 16, and has now decided that the committee will actually hear it – on May 31, the last day of the legislative session. By then, time will be up. The bill could not possibly come to a final action vote this spring.

—————————————–

SB 231 is a Formula Block Grant for special education.

It bases funding NOT on the number of special ed students which varies tremendously among school districts, but instead on the Statewide AVERAGE. A school district would receive exactly the same amount of money if it had 5 percent of its students in special education OR 12 percent. That makes it a Block Grant as it also is just a funding formula that does NOT require that the money be spent on special education. SB 231 ELIMINATES

the State law tying $9,000 in funding to the hiring of each special ed teacher and other professionals.  

WHAT WOULD HB 3190 EVIDENCE BASED DO TO SPECIAL ED?

The Evidence Based plan is the proposal of the Illinois School Superintendents and other Administrator groups.

The detailed EVIDENCE-BASED plan for special education, as presented to ISBE and to Rep. Currie’s education task force, is based on the VERMONT STUDY 2015.

(As for SB 231, the EVIDENCE BASED plan is just funding: it does NOT require the hiring of a special education teacher.) 

Every child in the general education classroom, taught by the general ed teacher as in Vermont?

Some want special education to largely disappear, and for general ed and the general ed teacher to do it all.

Vermont is the leading State for full inclusion of all (or almost all) students with disabilities in the general education classroom full-time.

136 schools in Vermont report having ZERO special ed teachers, while 49 of the 136 schools report having special ed aides (and this is based on actual services in a school: several other schools reported having 1/2 of a special ed teacher). 

For special education, the EVIDENCE BASED plan to change school  funding in Illinois is based on the same VERMONT STUDY 2015.

As stated on Page 405 of House Bill 3190 under “Special education investments”:

1.0 position per 141 students for services for students with mild and moderate disabilities.

0.5 teacher aides per 141 students.

1.0 psychologist per 1,000 students.

And the RESEARCH BASED source for this?  VERMONT.

It would be hard to find a State more different from Illinois than Vermont.

PLEASE IMMEDIATELY CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE,

doing it again if you have already done it, saying:

PLEASE WORK TO MAKE SURE THAT $9,000 FOR EACH SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER REMAINS LAW IN ANY SCHOOL FUNDING CHANGE BILL.   DIRECT AND DEDICATED FUNDING IS CRITICAL TO ASSURE THAT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES HAVE THE SPECIALLY TRAINED TEACHERS THEY SO NEED.

Say that both Senate Bill 231 and the EVIDENCE BASED plan in House Bill 3190 eliminate direct funding of special ed teachers and replace it with Block Grants that can be spent for ANY purpose.

Find out who your State Senator and State Representative are:

http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

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