Bev Johns: Illinois special education funding. Fact and fiction.

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-Bev Johns

Senate Bills 1 and 1124, and House Bill 2808 would change all of the school funding formulas in Illinois, AND would change the very nature of special education.

Is special ed as detailed in the Federal special education law, IDEA, OR is it a Response to Intervention (RTI also called MTSS), more full inclusion in the regular, general education on the theory that we can prevent disabilities (because there are no true disabilities, only differences)?

On April 18 the special ed administrators, IAASE, sent an email with a one-page supposed fact sheet titled  ACTUAL IMPACT ON SPECIAL EDUCATION (Fix the Formula Illinois) that makes a claim we did NOT make (that direct and dedicated funding for special education would be eliminated) instead of correctly saying that direct and dedicated funding for special education TEACHERS (and other personnel) would be eliminated by HB 2808 and SB 1 and 1124.

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Here is what the fact sheet claimed, and what is true.

CLAIM: Will evidence based funding eliminate “direct and dedicated” funding for special education? No.

FACT: The Evidence Based Model (EBM) in House Bill 2808, and in Senate Bills 1 and 1124 would eliminate direct and dedicated funding for special education TEACHERS.

On pages 234 through 237, HB 2808 would eliminate Special Education Personnel Reimbursement by adding the words “Through Fiscal Year 2017” which would end Special Ed Personnel Reimbursement after the current 2016-2017 school year.

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IAASE also included another fact sheet titled 5 KEY FACTS, SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING IN HB2808, Fix the Formula Illinois.

CLAIM: The legislation allocates funding for special education based on total student enrollment…

FACT: True. Funding for special education would be based on the number of GENERAL education students.  

CLAIM: …resulting in one special education teacher and one instructional assistant for every 20 students with an IEP, on average.

FACT: Highly misleading if not false. Using the words “on average” as a Statewide average has zero relevance to any one school district or special ed co-op. (1) House Bill 2808 on page 332 under Special Education Investments provides for one position (OT or PT or speech/ language or social worker or teacher) for 141 GENERAL education students and one assistant for every 141 GENERAL education students.

(2) This is just funding so it can be spent on as many (or as few) special ed teachers as a school district wants to spend it on – OR on anything that the school district calls special education.

(3) This would be a great incentive to identify fewer students for special education as a school district would receive exactly the same amount of money no matter how many (or how few) students the school district identifies as needing special education. 

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In addition these fact sheets make NO mention of the fact that special ed co-ops would receive NO new money under HB 2808, SB 1, or SB 1124 (even if NEW money is appropriated).

The fact sheets make NO mention of the requirement for Response to Intervention (RTI) in the 3 bills as it is an “ESSENTIAL” part of the Evidence Based Model.

And none of these bills would provide any NEW money. That will take separate appropriation bills, but only the poorest school districts would receive significant new funding under the 4 Tiers of funding in HB 2808, SB  1 or SB 1124 EVEN IF significant new money is appropriated.

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3 Replies to “Bev Johns: Illinois special education funding. Fact and fiction.”

  1. Call & visit your state senators & representatives while they are at home during the break–today & tomorrow (the General Assembly reconvenes next week), & tell them to vote NO on HB 2808, SB 1 & SB 1124.
    And, keep calling their offices in Springfield when they’re back.

  2. Believe it or not, if you call (and call again) your State Senator and your State Representative, ask polite but direct questions, and say you will call back for an answer, you can really affect legislation.

    House Bill 2808 (State Rep. Will Davis), Senate Bill 1 amendments (State Senator Andy Manar), and Senate Bill 1124 (State Senator Jason Barickman) all have the same damaging language on special education.

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