In July I’m typically half relaxing on my couch and half preparing materials and curriculum for the upcoming school year. This July, I’m panicking. As a special education teacher for children with moderate to severe disabilities in Chicago Public Schools I have every right to be. The 2015-2016 budget stated that the district would save roughly $42 million by “modifying services” for students with disabilities. This modification could cause about 540 special educators and paraprofessionals to lose their jobs, and potentially schools could lose these positions entirely. These positions were not created out of thin air, they were created for students to succeed based on their Individualized EducationProgram, or IEP.
Children with disabilities each have an IEP, written by a team of professionals in collaboration with the student’s guardian, which outlines a detailed plan for learning growth, outcomes, and the exact ways the student will reach them. These individual programs are laid out minute by minute with the amount of support the child will receive from certified educators, clinicians, and yes — paraprofessionals. IEPs are legal documents that are protected by state and federal law.
In my classroom of children with moderate to severe needs, we are filled to the brim with the legal capacity of 13 students. Each requires support for the entire day from a certified special educator and a shared paraprofessional. Additionally, three of my students’IEPs state that they need one-on-one support from a paraprofessional.
According to the newly released budget, I will be teaching my 13 students with the assistance of one paraprofessional. Not only is this a violation of all of my students IEPs, but it is an insult to my profession and the needs of my classroom. I teach my students valuable life and academic skills that help them build independence and confidence. Without assistance from paraprofessionals, myinstructional day will result in crowd control. My students deserve more than that.
As my school district fears bankruptcy, they do not consider the legal ramifications from violating IEPs. As dedicated guardians advocate for their children, Chicago Public Schools will need to provide the appropriate services.
It’s time to play fair. CPS, please stop treating my students like second class citizens.
Allie Griffin, West Town
SEND LETTERS TO:firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include the name of your neighborhood or suburb, and a phone number for verification.)
John Tillman wrong on Rauner
John Tillman’s article on July 31 is right about Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan but wrong about Gov. Bruce Rauner. Madigan does only want to maintain political power, but Rauner doesn’t care about average citizens. If he could he would follow the Scott Walker game plan by neutering public sector unions, giving big tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and trying to make Illinois a right to work state, which is the standard Republican platform. Thank goodness Madigan will stand in his way.
Michael Shepherd, Bellwood
What’s unfair about “fair trade”Our elected officials, in cooperation with lobbyists and other countries, passed what they called the “Fair Trade Bill”. This bill was intended to promote trade between us and other countries by opening markets for items produced by one country in another country without import duties.What Fair Trade has done was make it possible for manufactures to relocate their operations to another country where production costs are lower and then ship those products to the United States for sale. Brock Candies, Maytag and Nabisco, to name a few companies, have or plan to move to Mexico. These are not products produced that are unique to Mexico. Jobs lost number in the thousands from these companies alone. Fair Trade is more than fair to other countries by enhancing their economy but is a detriment to our economy by the loss of jobs.John Culloton, Norwood Park