Support students with disabilities and special educators
May 2, 2020


Whereas, nationwide, local educational agencies are required by federal law, through The Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA), to provide appropriate and comprehensive educational programs for students with disabilities (SWDs); and

Whereas, federal funding for support services for these students continuously falls short of the ever-increasing cost of special education services; and

Whereas, Congress has set a goal of 40 percent for the federal share costs of special education services, but, in reality, is much less, such as in California, where the funding is closer to 10 percent each year; and

Whereas, states’ and local school districts’ impacted budgets are forced to pick up the much larger differential for special education costs, forcing special educators to do more with less each year; and

Whereas, Congress has failed to show any change in budgetary practices for funding IDEA; and

Whereas, the student equity, access, and academic achievement gap is most pronounced for SWDs; and

Whereas, districts have been forced to increase the number of SWDs to be served in general educational programs ignoring the continuum of learning for said students, with disregard to any additional funding for professional development of all educators and increased staffing of paraprofessionals; and

Whereas, skillful teaching in inclusive classrooms improves outcomes for all students, including SWDs; and 

Whereas, many educators are not fully prepared via appropriate credentials in order to adapt curriculum to meet the changing needs of SWDs; and

Whereas, shortages in special educators make providing services more costly, less effective, and difficult to schedule; and 

Whereas, one of the most frequent issues that is raised by the CFT rank-and-file membership is centered around providing a continuum of services for SWDs; and

Whereas, as the rank-and-file members are the practitioners and the leaders of our profession, so too should our union become a leader in both shedding light on the shortcomings of our system and providing professional development for the membership; and

Therefore be it resolved, that the AFT research the non-compliance of IDEA and the impact made regarding non-compliance on SWDs; and

Therefore be it further resolved, that the AFT consider holding regional special education summits, potentially using the California Federation of Teachers’ Special Education Summit structure; and

Therefore be it further resolved, that the AFT establish a national summit and/or a Together Educating America’s Children (TEACH) dedicated to special education best practices, possibly through AFT’s regional division structure; and

Therefore be it further resolved, that the AFT establish links on its website to collect, vet, and archive documents regarding special education best practices; and

Therefore be it finally resolved, that the AFT appoints at least three special education practitioner members to the PreK-12 Teachers Program & Policy Council.