Rolling back supports for special education students represents a betrayal of charter operator’s commitment to improve special ed services in wake of historic 2018 strike.
- 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, October 6: Press conference, Acero parents and special education workers. Via Zoom: For reporters working remotely, please check your email for a zoom link or email email@example.com.
CHICAGO—At a time when CPS is claiming the acute needs of special education students during remote learning justifies a return to unsafe school buildings, the school district is allowing one of CPS’ largest charter operators to gut special ed support for the charter operator’s most vulnerable students.
Parents are outraged—and will join rank and file CTU members who work with special education students at a press conference at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 6, via Zoom. Reporters can register for the press conference at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nauQnzurROC2lxqkj1SqZA
Acero has slashed a total of 26 special ed positions in recent months, including 13 special ed positions which are being ‘repurposed’ and the layoff of 10 workers. The charter operator eliminated eight special education positions over the summer, and elected not to fill other open positions. Those cuts occurred even as the operator’s staff have conceded that students overall need more adult staff support, not less.
Remote learning presents unique challenges for special ed students and their families, requiring that schools ensure greater resources for these children, not less. Instead, Acero has scrambled workers’ caseloads, and taken workers away from students with whom they have strong therapeutic and educational relationships, undermining those children.
CPS claws back a percentage of the dollars they provide to charter operators for ‘oversight’ out of CPS’ central office. Yet CPS oversight apparently includes ignoring special ed cuts at Acero that harm students, even as CPS is still under a state monitor for gutting $30 million in supports and services for District special education students. CPS’ failed oversight of special ed services for Acero students is part of a longstanding pattern of indifference to special needs students, threatening these children with lifelong harm.
While Acero is gutting special education at their schools, the CTU is deeply concerned that CPS itself is failing to take steps to provide adequately for District special ed students, as well. CPS has refused to revise a remote school day that is extremely challenging, particularly for special needs students. CPS has routinely used special ed students’ needs as an excuse to force in-person services in buildings that an arbitrator has now found to be unsafe.
The CTU successfully struck Acero in December of 2018, in the first strike against a charter operator in U.S. history. That strike won demands that included management commitments to comply with special ed laws and staffing levels, which have been a chronic problem in both CPS charter and district schools, protecting resources for the schools’ most vulnerable students. Rolling back supports for special education students represents a betrayal of this commitment, charge rank and file CTU educators and parents.