A proposal to eliminate statewide class-size restrictions for special education students was killed on Tuesday, in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times spotlight on the proposal, its potential impact and vast opposition to it.
“We’re not going to hear this matter tomorrow. We pulled it from our agenda,” Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico told the Sun-Times, after simple notice to that effect appeared on board’s website.
“And because we’re not going to hear it, that means the proposed rule change is going to expire, and that effectively it’s dead,” Chico said.
Sources told the Sun-Times that members of the nine-member board appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn had long expressed concerns similar to those raised in the article. Some board members said they feared the potential impact to learning and to teaching for both special ed and general education students if school districts increased the size of self-contained special ed classes — or the size of general ed classes where those students are included.
The proposal would have allowed school districts to set their own limits for any classes involving special ed students. On the state board’s agenda as late as Friday, it was set to be voted on by the full board on Wednesday at its monthly meeting.
On Tuesday morning, a brief note on the agency’s website: “NOTE: Part 226 (Special Education) (class size/composition) WILL NOT be discussed at the January Board Meeting,” was the only indication a reversal was pending.
“I’d like to commend the Illinois State Board of Education for doing what was right for all Illinois students today,” said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “Thousands of teachers, school staff, and parents voiced their concerns. The State Board listened. I appreciate their leadership, particularly that of Chairman Gery Chico, who listened thoughtfully, considered all sides of the issue, and made a tough decision.”