Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education asked the State Board to support a proposal to repeal sections of the school code that address the definition of a general education classroom and class size restrictions in special education. This proposed change was sent forward for initial review with a window for public comment to open in the next few weeks. The Arc of Illinois will prepare a position statement asking for the withdrawal of this proposal when the public comment period opens and will let you know how your comments can be submitted as well.
The 70/30 rule – a guideline implemented to provide assurance of natural proportion in regular education classrooms – will be eliminated if this proposal is approved. That means that there will be no regulation on the proportion of students with IEPs to those without in the definition of general education. As a result, a classroom taught by the appropriately credentialed teachers, using general ed curriculum, but consisting of all students with IEPs could be called a general education classroom. Federal law ensures “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities … are educated with children who are not disabled”. The Arc believes that this important characteristic of successful integrated classrooms should remain a priority, acknowledged by school code.
Another part of the proposal would eliminate class size restrictions in special education classrooms. We find it difficult to understand how this better serves or protects students or teachers in special education.
For more information, you can find the proposal submitted by ISBE to the State Board of Education at http://www.isbe.state.il.us/board/meetings/2013/feb/packet.pdf
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423