-By Bev Johns
Some want and expect the GENERAL education teacher to do it all.
In the future there will be ONLY one special ed funding formula (every bill ELIMINATES the Chicago special ed Block Grant).
The still secret Amendment to Senate Bill 1, and the language now in House Bill 2808 would change all of the school funding formulas in Illinois, and for special education, aims to reduce the claimed “drastic over-identification” for special ed (State Sen. Andy Manar so stated on Jan. 17 to the Rauner Commission, ask him why by calling him at 217-782-0228 or 618-585-4848).
Where did the special ed parts of the coming Amendment to SB 1 and of the current HB 2808 come from?
From a study done for the State of Vermont because some in Vermont wanted to drastically reduce special education TEACHERS.
Vermont is know as a Full Inclusion (every child in the General education classroom) State, but even Vermont REJECTED the study that Illinois NOW WANTS TO IMPLEMENT.
As a current article in the Hechinger Report states, we need to train General ed teachers to do it all –“Is Teacher Preparation Failing Students With Disabilities?”
The answer is YES, IF we expect the General education teacher to teach every child with a disability.
But that is NOT what IDEA, the Federal special education law, requires, and NOT what Illinois law requires.
MONEY IS NOT THE ISSUE WITH THE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROVISIONS NOW IN HOUSE BILL 2808.
AND IN THE AMENDMENT BEING DRAFTED TO SENATE BILL 1.
The problem is that both divorce State funding from the most important factor in truly educating students with disabilities – the special education teacher.
Every study that I know of states that the teacher is the most critical factor to a child’s education.
The specially trained special education expert, the special education teacher, is absolutely critical to the education of a student with a disability.
Now Illinois statute includes Special Education Personnel Reimbursement of $9,000 for each special ed teacher.
HB 2808 (on pages 234-237) eliminates Special Education Personnel Reimbursement after Fiscal Year 17 (after the current school year), and SB 1 is expected to do the same.
Instead both bill are just about funding, NOT funding directly tied to the hiring of a special ed teacher.
We do not want to happen in all of Illinois what has happened with the Chicago special education Block Grant.
CPS almost every year reduces the number of special education teachers because it loses NOT ONE DOLLAR by doing that.
For HB 2808 as now written and the new SB 1, every school district in Illinois could reduce its number of special education teachers and NOT LOSE ONE DOLLAR in State funding.