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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

State of Illinois backs off plan to change special ed class sizes


A proposal to eliminate class-size restrictions for special education students won’t be taken up by the Illinois State Board of Education after all, officials said.
The state board was set to vote on the change on Wednesday. The Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday detailed the proposal and a tidal wave of opposition to the plan.
On Tuesday, a state board spokeswoman said “The rule process is such that these proposed rules will expire and at this point in time, we don’t expect to move forward with an entire set of new rules but will try to work on giving districts flexibility so that all students can have access to the most rigorous classes.”
The proposal would have allowed school districts to set their own limits for special education classes and for general education classes in which special education students are included.
The board had said repealing size limits for special education classes and the state’s 70/30 rule that limits the ratio of special ed students in any general education class to 30 percent, is a push toward greater inclusiveness.
“We are very glad that the State Board of Education listened to the thousands of teachers and parents who voiced their serious concerns about this proposal,” the Illinois Federation of Teachers said in an email Tuesday.
Teachers and parents who have seen class sizes generally growing in recent years — because of state cuts to public school funding and local districts’ financial straits — say higher ratios will make teaching and learning more challenging, and that both special and general education students will suffer.
It’s the second time the proposed change was set to be discussed but was removed from the agenda.

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