Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for September 8, 2006

Below is a message sent to local Association presidents by IEA President Ken Swanson...


Your help is needed to stop a proposal making its way through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that could have a negative impact on students and teachers in classrooms throughout Illinois.

Some of the proposed changes to the ISBE rules (Special Education Part 226 of the Illinois Administrative Code) represent positive change. However, we have grave concerns about the portions of the proposed changes that would:

* Raise the limit on the percentage of special education students in a regular education classroom from 30 percent to 40 percent.

* Base special education maximum class sizes on the percentage of time special education students are removed from regular education classrooms, instead of on the type or intensity of students’ disabilities, as is currently done. The larger class size would come with no promise of additional assistance for the classroom teacher!

I believe these changes would have far-reaching effects on students, teachers and school districts:

* The already high caseloads for special education teachers would rise.

* The number of special education students in regular classrooms would increase.

* Available support for special education students will be reduced.

* Special and regular education teachers would be harder pressed to meet the needs of special and regular education students.

According to the Illinois Special Education Coalition (ISELA), "at least one large school district has already cut special education teachers based on these proposed regulations." In addition, ISLEA quotes a special education teacher who speaks for many:

"…I will be spread so thin as to become ineffective while at the same time I am being held accountable for students making AYP."

Colleagues, we must act quickly.

Come to the hearing

* ISBE is holding its final hearing on the proposed Special Education Part 226 Rules changes on Sept. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Room C-500 of the Michael Bilandic Building located at 160 North LaSalle in Chicago.

I intend to testify at that hearing and I am urging each IEA member to consider attending as well. A strong turnout by IEA members, especially teachers, would send an important message to the ISBE members who will vote in the next few months on whether to accept the proposed changes.

ISBE's announcement of the meeting can be found on their Web site at

Contact ISBE members immediately, via phone or e-mail and tell them:

* Forcing special education students into regular classrooms is a recipe for disaster for both students and teachers.

* Reducing special education services to students who need them is unconscionable and must be voted down.

Here’s how you can get in touch with members of the ISBE:

Contact Jean Ladage, board services coordinator, by e-mail at; by phone at 217/782-2223 or 866/262-6664; or by U.S. mail at 101 N. First St., Springfield, IL 62777.

To make a public comment, e-mail your comments to Sally Vogl at

These changes would have a significant negative impact on both regular and special education students and teachers. We must stop this proposal and I urge you to get involved.

I will keep you informed about new developments. We can win this battle, if we all do our part.