Read CTA's Policy Brief on Special Education
CTA believes that students with exceptional needs must be educated in the most appropriate placement and that many of these children can benefit by instruction in regular education classes. Class size/caseload limits are vital to supporting educators’ efforts to educate these students, and full funding is crucial to the program’s success.
CTA believes Individuals with Exceptional Needs should be educated in the most appropriate placement, based on their Individual Educational Program (IEP). A continuum of placements should be available to meet the needs of these individuals for special education and/or related services, including regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions. The impact of this continuum of placements must be bargained, especially when the issues involve class size, coordinated planning time, and appropriate inclusion programs. Greater emphasis must be placed on collaboration between regular education teachers and special education staff to improve and expand services to children.
Special Education Programs: Foundation for Excellence
CTA believes some children with disabilities can benefit from instruction provided by regular education. Districts must comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including provisions protecting parent and student rights and establishing eligibility standards.
Adequate funding is crucial to the success of these programs. Proposed reforms must be fully funded and appropriations must not be diverted to other programs. Reforms should be piloted before full implementation, and all staff should receive professional development – designed and provided by participating school personnel – prior to implementation.
Special Education Plan Local Committees
A committee within each local agency, county office, and consortium should create the local plan for special education. Composed of 25% administrators, 50% special education teachers, and 25% regular classroom teachers, the committee and the administrative entity of each agency should cooperatively develop and implement the local plan for special education. The exclusive bargaining agent should provide for the appropriate representation of regular and special educators.
Mandated Special Education Resource Specialist caseload limits for programmatic and funding purposes are vital to ensuring these youngsters high quality instruction and support. All students provided direct service or consultation must be counted within the limits, including students who do not have Individual Educational Programs. These limits should be adjusted to reflect the number of schools a staff person covers, travel time, workload, severity of disabilities, IEP preparation, paperwork and assessments, and related issues. CTA believes waivers to these limits should be issued only in extraordinary circumstances.