-By Bev Johns
In a hearing in the Illinois House of Representatives on May 10, supporters of House Bill 2808 were asked by State Representative Laura Fine how the bill would affect the $9,000 in State funds now received by school districts to pay part of the salary of each special education teacher.
Mike Jacoby, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, replied that under House Bill 2808 school districts would be “receiving 100% of that resource.”
He failed to say that the bill would ELIMINATE the $9,000 for each special education teacher, and allow local schools to spend that money on anything they call special education.
Jacoby also stated that it is the Individualized Education Program (the IEP), NOT funding that is important.
“The IEP determines spending…the IEP drives services…the IEP is required regardless of what funding comes to the district.” (If only special education were that simple.)
It is hard to believe that Jacoby knows so little about what is actually happening in too many school districts in Illinois.
Funding is not only important: Funding is critical (as Jacoby argues about all the rest of school funding).
Where parents know the Federal special education law and regulations, the Illinois law and regulations, AND have the resources to enforce (1) getting a good IEP for their child, and (2) making certain that IEP is implemented; then YES the IEP is most important.
But for all other parents, and for special education teachers it is critical to have direct and dedicated funding (Special Education Personnel Reimbursement) of $9,000 per year for each special education teacher.
Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2808 would ELIMINATE Special Education Personnel Reimbursement, eliminate direct and dedicated funding for the one school person most important to the education of a child with disabilities: the specially trained special education teacher.