Why Special Ed, Why So Late?

There are a couple of things that have been bothering me about the budget cut hullabaloo from last week -- I'm hoping that some of the readers of this site will be able to help me understand:

Why did the Board focus on special ed in its annual budget cuts this year -- instead of doing something across the board? 

Why did the impact of the cuts seemed to only come to light so late in the process -- basically the week of the Board's decision?

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  • To the question: Why did the impact of the cuts seemed to only come to light so late in the process -- basically the week of the Board's decision?

    Well one reason was that even though at the May Board meeting there were numerous speakers against the proposed budget reductions there was no press coverage on it. Earlier there had been an article in the Tribune on spending budget cuts, but there was no comparative data available to the reporter. For example the reporter was not aware that about 5% of the special ed teaching staff had been cut in the 03-04 school year, about 20% of the aide staff had been cut in 03-04. So in many ways the totality of the cuts relative to the existing program were unclear.

    Because I was a consultant to the Corey H. Monitor's Office I was highly aware of staffing issues at the CPS. It became clear to me that it was in the best interests of students with disabilties that I leave the Corey H. Office so that I could at least publicly oppose what I knew as early as the first week of January 2006 would be large staffing reductions.

    I did not leave the Monitor's Office until May 12, and until that point I was bound by role in the case to refain from public discussion of these issues. The reality was that very few advocates for special education had been following closely staffing issues at the CPS. In fact most of the Special education work was focusing on the Illinois State Board of Education's administrative regulations and IDEA's own regulations. When I emerged from the Monitor's Office I could provide more context to the cuts for parents and other to understand.

    So that I hope explains a little in relation to the question.

    As to this question: "Does anyone know what percentage of the special education budget is allocated for personnel excluding those personnel (teachers, aides,CWAs) who are assigned to a school's unit number? I would like to know how we compare to other cities as far as monies spent on special education. I have read articles over the past few years that when compared to similar cities we do not over refer students for special education students. Someone needs to analyze the data."

    I have data from the 03-04 school year. In general between 70 and 80% of special education costs go to staff, a lot of money goes to pay for students placed in private schools and public expense. Comparatively, I have only limited knowledge of these other large districts. I know that in large districts that have higher student to special education staff ratios more students tend to be placed in the private sector at public expense. The most notorious school district is the Washington DC school district in this regard.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living

  • I agree it is impossible for a Special Education teacher to teach 15-20 students who go from a preschool level to 4th or 5th grade in the same classroom especially when disabilities vary from TMH to lead damage to PHY to EMH to LD and everything in between.

    Even if a teacher has the training someone gets the short end because the low end students can only learn one on one and then the upper level students are ignored or the low end students sit there while you are working with the higher students.

    No matter how badly the teacher wants to meet the needs of all of the students it can't be done.

    At staffings, all they can tell you is that it is not their problem and the Board is not going to do anything else to meet the needs of these students.

    I found this increasingly frustrating as a teacher and later a case manager.

    I was always told that IEP were to be written to meet the needs of the students not the needs of the Board but you get in trouble when you try to do so.

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