URGENT ACTION NEEDED - SPECIAL ED IN JEOPARDY!
Please follow this link http://www.njea.org/news/2013-02-26/special-education-in-danger for more details about the proposal and to learn how members can get involved in this important fight. Additionally, see talking points below.
NJEA Calls on Members to Preserve New Jersey’s High-Quality Special Education Programs to Protect our Most Vulnerable Students!
In what it calls its effort to ‘free up districts from unnecessary burdens,’ the Department of Education has accepted recommendations from the Education Transformation Task Force and proposed changes to special education regulations that will diminish services and weaken the successful education programs New Jersey’s special education students now receive. NJEA is extremely concerned about these proposed regulations and with the overall direction the DOE is taking with respect to special education. We need members to stand up and speak out if we are going to preserve the outstanding services we have for our most vulnerable students.
Designating teachers and any other licensed staff member, including guidance
counselors, librarians and nurses to serve as case managers of students with disabilities.
NJEA opposes this change. Teachers should be teaching. Considering the new evaluation regulations, adoption of the core content standards and the upcoming PARCC assessments, teachers need to concentrate on their instructional responsibilities. Students will suffer if teachers’ time and efforts are divided between instruction and case management. Case management is time consuming and should be left in the hands of child study team members who are licensed and have the specialized expertise for that responsibility.
Allowing school districts 90 days to complete an evaluation of a student with a disability, who transfers from one New Jersey school district to another in-state district, or when a student transfers from an out-of-state district to a New Jersey district.
NJEA opposes this change. Current code requires the evaluation be done in 30 days. And with good reason -- 90 days is too long for a student to be inappropriately placed -- almost 1/3 of a 10-month school year. IEP’s need to be in place as soon as possible, so that a teacher can provide the student with the supports needed to become a successful learner.
Allowing extended time for class-size waivers, and
Disregarding notification to parents until after a class-size waiver has been granted.
NJEA opposes these proposals. The Individual Education Plan (IEP) should be the only determining factor when deciding the program and class-size that is best for a student with a disability. Parents are part of the IEP team and therefore should be notified of any potential changes before the changes are made. Current regulations have recommended class-sizes based on best practices and the research shows that students benefit when they have an environment that allows for them to interact with the instructor and each other. Class-size waivers should be the exception and granted on a temporary, emergency basis only.
NJEA believes that many of the proposed regulations to special education will not only have detrimental effects on students, but also to their teachers and parents. As teachers in New Jersey wait to see how the new evaluation regulations will include student performance as part of their evaluation, it is more important than ever, that New Jersey’s students have the programs and services they need to be successful.
It is extremely important that we contact our state board members regarding this issue now! We need your help in writing and generating letters to state board members so that they can understand the detrimental impact these regulations will have on our special education students.
If you are able to take a personal day, consider attending NJEA’s Lobby Day at the State Board of Education Meeting on March 6. If you would like to testify, register by noon of March 1, at http://education.state.nj.us/sboe/
Contact your legislators to let them know your concerns. Although the state legislature does not have any say over the regulatory process, legislators should be aware of the changes that will impact students all across New Jersey.
Stay informed through the NJEA Reporter, Review and njea.org website.
Attend your LAT meetings.
TALKING POINTS – SPECIAL EDUCATION
When you write your letter, make it personal. Include your own stories or experiences, and those of colleagues.
Introduce yourself and explain what you teach. For those of you who have written to the State BOE regarding other regulatory changes, be sure and include that.
Explain your concerns about the proposed changes to special education.
How will they impact you?
How will they impact your students? Our special education population faces many obstacles on a daily basis; describe your students’ particular journeys. State board members might not be concerned about the way the regulations will affect you, but they do want to know what it will mean for students.
How would serving as a case manager impact your classroom instruction time? What would it mean for the students in your class?
What would it mean for a new student – with possible learning disabilities – to have to wait 90 days while the district completes the evaluation process? What would it mean for you and the other students in your class?
Describe what a class-size waiver could possibly look like in your class? Do you have what you would need to accommodate more students? Would your students have the optimal learning environment?
Thank state board members for considering your views. Feel free to invite them to continue the conversation by including your name, phone number or home email as you close your letter. Many of them want more information.
Proof your letter for spelling and clarification.
REMEMBER: You are a professional! You have the right and the obligation to stand up for your profession!
Writing letters to the State Board of Education
Effective letters are those which are individually written or typed rather than a form letter you simply sign.
Be sure to mention your full name and position in the public schools.
Identify the issue you’re discussing and/or the code proposal at the beginning of your letter. State your position in your introductory paragraph. Be factual and support your position with information about how this will affect you as an educator and the students in your school.
Be concise and straightforward. One page is sufficient.
Offer to provide any additional information the board member might want or need. Provide contact information in case they wish to follow up.
Remember to THANK the board member for considering your view.
Letters to State Board members can be sent to them at the State Board office. The members, their counties, and the office address are below.
Arcelio Aponte, President
Mr. Ilan Plawker, Vice President
Dr. Ronald Butcher
Claire Chamberlin Eckert
Robert P. Haney
J. Peter Simon
Dr. Dorothy S. Strickland
State Board Office
PO Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625