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Resolution No. 28 - Support for Early Intervention and Equalization of Opportunities by, for, and with Persons with Disabilities

Support for Early Intervention and Equalization of Opportunities by, For, and With Persons with Disabilities
Submitted by: IFT Executive Board

WHEREAS, Our Nation’s Children at Risk: A State-by-State Report on Early Intervention found that of the 540,688 students ages 0-3 in Illinois in 2011, on average, fewer than 20 percent of them (approximately 108,137) are properly screened to identify their special need; and

WHEREAS, in 2011, 70,289 Illinois kids under the age of three were at risk of developmental delays or disabilities that will hinder them when they start school, yet only about half of these students are currently receiving early intervention services through Part C of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, resulting in many never reaching their full potential or attaining similar educational outcomes as non-developmentally delayed peers; and

WHEREAS, Illinois' allocation for early intervention funding has remained flat from 2012 to 2013 at $160 million; and

WHEREAS, it is harder than ever for families to access care because essential programs to treat young students with disabilities are chronically underfunded and in danger of being scaled back even further; and

WHEREAS, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) members, based on career experience, have expressed strong concerns about abuses and potential inequities arising from allowing flexibility and/or eliminating statewide protections for class size/caseloads limitations, as they serve an increasingly diverse population of special education students through different service delivery models; and

WHEREAS, the promises of statewide Response to Intervention processes have been compromised by lack of adequate statewide training, support, resources, and funding for equitable implementation across Illinois' schools, impacting IFT members' abilities to provide all necessary early interventions and instructional supports to all of their students; and

WHEREAS, persons with disabilities, even as adults, remain the most marginalized segment of society, often discriminated against through exploitation and violence and excluded from mainstream activities, including participation in political and public life, education, and employment; and

WHEREAS, about 8 in 10 working-age Americans with disabilities do not hold a job, and of those who are actively looking, about 13 percent remain unemployed, compared with 7 percent of the broader work force (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012); therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) recognizes the profound social,
    cultural and economic disadvantages and exclusion experienced by many persons with cognitive or physical disabilities and support proactive measures towards altering the perception of disability and ensuring that societies recognize that all people must have the opportunity to reach their full potential; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT will promote early intervention and identification of disabilities, especially for students, by advocating for increased state funding for early intervention programs, including effective implementation supports for Response to Intervention, and urge the American Federation of Teachers to advocate for full funding for Part C of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT supports programs and legislation that enable young students with disabilities or developmental delays the opportunity to achieve similar educational possibilities as their nondisabled peers, or enhance their development so they can better learn and grow; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT advocates for the Illinois State Board of Education to maintain and enhance the long standing state protections for class size/case load and age requirements; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT supports a collaborative effort with Pre K-12 schools, public colleges, universities, and organizations of persons with disabilities, to engage in cooperative arrangements aimed at removing barriers for persons with disabilities by providing adequate resources and access to appropriate assistive devices, which help to ensure full inclusion and participation in the classroom and workplace; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the IFT will advocate on behalf of our members with disabilities by developing model contract language to allow local unions to address issues of discrimination and equalization of opportunity in the workplace, which includes reasonable accommodations to address the needs of persons with disabilities.


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