The Illinois Board of Education believes larger general education classes will help children with disabilities http://action.aft.org/c/468/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=7727. Restricting the size or providing self-contained classes would do them a disservice. Really? Shame on them! Who do they think they are fooling? Consider this profound statement:
“The elimination of state requirements specific to class size will best ensure that each student with disabilities is placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE), as directed by his or her Individualized Education Program (IEP), and has access to the broad array of coursework available to his or her nondisabled peers, particularly in the middle grades and high school.”
Will the IEP really rule here? It should. But more and more it is being cast aside. School boards use language so convoluted it tricks or confuses parents and educators into thinking they have the best interest of the child at heart. Some parents will jump at the chance to get their student with disabilities into a regular class. But most realize only with individualized attention will they get the help they need. They aren’t going to get that help in a larger class size no matter what anyone says.
And where do Common Core State Standards come into play? I’m wondering.
To say you are going to provide the student with a “broad array of coursework available to his or her nondisabled peers” is deceiving. What they really mean is that there will be no individualization.
Parents in Illinois should ask the school board, “In that larger regular class, how much support will my child get from a special education teacher? Will they get any support at all in the regular class?” Then, if this passes, keep checking to make sure they are getting support, and how often.
There is nothing really surprising about this. They have been chipping away at the old Public Law 94-142 for a long time now. They took away a lot with the re-authorization to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997 and again in 2004. Ask yourselves. Why did we need those re-authorizations? Why did they want to change the original law?
They want to get rid of special education. It is costly, the students are challenging and there is a group who believe all you have to do is wave a magic wand.
But students with disabilities need services. They won’t all get those services in a over-sized general education class. Thankfully, a lot of advocacy groups—and parents and educators—know this in Illinois. Even students without disabilities need smaller class sizes http://www.classsizematters.org/. Large class sizes make no sense.
They are trying to place the least restrictive environment over the IEP to get what they want.
The IEP teams should ignore the Illinois Board of Education and continue to choose appropriate placements for special ed. students, and special ed. should not be used as some kind of foolish bargaining chip to lift caps on class size in general education.