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Don’t increase special ed class sizes

Updated: March 25, 2013 6:39AM



Don’t increase special ed class sizes

In February, the Illinois State Board of Education voted five to one for rules that would eliminate limitations on special education class sizes. This rule would mean that the state would have no legal limitation for the number of children that a special education teacher is required to service.

As a primary special education teacher for students with low incidence disabilities, I am more than appalled.

Every day I walk into my classroom well rested. Eight hours of sleep is a necessity to teach 11 students under the age of 10 who have the primary diagnosis of autism, and many with secondary disability labels such as other health impairment (for ADHD or seizures) and speech language impairment. I love my job, but 11 students is a lot.

Currently, Illinois classrooms serving students in a self-contained model, like mine, have a capacity of 13 students. Though 13 students may seem like a small number, students like mine come with a variety of complex needs, such as toilet training and tube feeding. In our classroom we teach language arts, math, social studies, science, speech, fine motor, hygiene, social skills, drama, life skills and play based learning. Each student in my classroom has virtually their own curriculum that targets each of the academic goals in their Individualized Education Plan.

I think I am busy with 11 students. The thought of trying to give more than 13 students a quality education not only seems exhausting, but downright impossible. The rule that ISBE is releasing for public comment is unjust, inappropriate, and just plain disrespectful toward teachers, clinicians, and ultimately, the children whom we all claim we’re here to serve.

The children in my classroom are unique, talented, funny and smart. They deserve of small class sizes, one-to-one attention, and to be more than just a kid in a desk.

Allie Griffin, West Town

Impose universal gun background checks

Gun violence rips through communities and destroys so many lives — the innocent victims and the youth that have easy access to guns that pull the triggers. Our existing gun ownership laws should be universally enforced, and can be if Congress mandates background checks for each and every gun purchase.

Now is the time. No more children should have to die or have their lives destroyed.

Marcia Stanton,

Lindenhurst

Violent video games send wrong message

I enjoyed reading and agree with your editorial titled: “Is violent pop culture bad for us? Of course,” Feb. 18. Today, we live in the information age where we are incessantly bombarded with images — some pleasant, and some not so pleasant. Children, with underdeveloped brains, are much more influenced by these images — particularly when they are streamed toward them at the speed of light and then are passively absorbed and processed in their developing brains.

In my opinion, the increasing level of violence in our society directly correlates with the prevalence of films and songs that glorify violence. They also encourage children to withdraw into a world of fantasy where guns solve all problems instead of face problems more diplomatically and cautiously. We, as a society, must make a more serious effort to control what our children observe as it has a far more lasting influence on them (and our society at large) than anyone may predict.

Dr. Michael Pravica, Des Plaines



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