On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will be voting on a proposal to eliminate all special education class size limits and limits on the percentage of students with IEPs in general education classes.
Thousands of educators, parents and students have contacted ISBE to oppose what VIVA Teacher Lindsey Terrill (VIVA Chicago) says would make it “nearly impossible for many of my students to learn effectively.”
To protect her students’ right to learn, Lindsey wrote a letter to ISBE President Gery Chico. She invites you to email your own letter to President Chico at firstname.lastname@example.org, and has given permission for you to use or modify her letter.
Whether you live in Illinois or not, teacher voices carry strong weight when they speak for benefit of children anywhere.
Dear Mr. Chico,
I strongly oppose the removal of the special education class size cap in Illinois.
As a special education teacher who happily works only with students with special needs all day, I wonder what is the rationale of this vote. According to ISBE law, students with special needs are to be instructed in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Many would assume this means in the general education classroom. However, as the department that created this law, I know you must understand this is not the true definition of LRE. LRE actually means in the environment where a student can learn best.
It would be nearly impossible for many of my students to learn effectively in a classroom with more than 8 to 13 students, due to the severity of their disabilities. By removing the class size cap, you will be removing students from their LRE. If students with special needs were able to function in the large group setting they would not be in special education. By placing more students with special needs in one classroom you are taking away from all students. The students with special needs, general education students, and gifted students will all receive less time and attention from their teachers, which will in turn have a huge impact on how all of our students learn and achieve. These are our future leaders that we are educating. Let’s give them a fighting chance to be able to tap into the potential they have inside.
I leave you with a quote in the hope that you will do the right thing and cast an opposing vote to remove the class size cap in Illinois
The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
VIVA Teacher, Chicago
3-5 Special Education Teacher
James Monroe Elementary
Chicago Public Schools
Thus far, of the 5,523 written comments ISBE has received, 5,158 were opposed to the elimination of these state rules on special education class size. Please add your voice. When teachers speak out, students get a better education.
Share your stories—what issues do you think need more teacher voice?
As a VIVA Teacher, have you spoken up on a state or local matter to advocate for the best interest of your students? We’d love to hear your story.
Or, maybe you have a critical issue you need help getting heard. If so, please contact our Teacher Engagement Director Tina Nolan at email@example.com, to see how we can support you.
For the benefit of all students, the voices of educators, parents and students must lead the conversation on educational policy.