AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers believes each child deserves a free and appropriate challenging education that can only be reached through adequate and supported resources as identified in their individualized education plans (IEPs); and “Federal law requires states to monitor class-size and caseloads for special education personnel to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education,” (source: Kansas State Department of Education); and

WHEREAS, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children ages 3-17 diagnosed with a developmental disability increased from 16.2 percent in 2009-11 to 17.8 percent in 2015-17 (source: CDC); and

WHEREAS, the California Department of Education Section 56362 (c) addresses only caseload caps of 28 students for resource specialists; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio Department of Education’s rule 3301-51-09 addresses caseload caps of 16 at the elementary and high school levels, and no more than 24 at the high school level for students with intellectual disabilities (source: Ohio Administrative Code); and

WHEREAS, the New York Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Part 200 states that “The maximum class size for those students whose special education needs consist primarily of the need for specialized instruction which can best be accomplished in a self-contained setting shall not exceed 15 students, or 12 students in a state-operated or state-supported school” (source: The New York Regulations of the Commissioner of Education); and

WHEREAS, nationally, the number of teachers currently holding substandard credentials and temporary permits has increased annually at a time when the percentage of preliminary education specialist credential holders has been decreasing, oftentimes resulting in fully credentialed special educators picking up the work of developing IEPs for students who are not on their caseloads and making them responsible for a disproportionate amount of IEPs relative to their own caseloads (source: Learning Policy Institute); and

WHEREAS, nationally there is critical shortage and retention of special education teachers and special education support staff at a time when increased enrollment of students with special needs is prevalent (source: Learning Policy Institute); and

WHEREAS, the demographics of special education caseloads have changed to include a diverse range of students with identified needs ranging from mild to severe academic, physical and socio-emotional disabilities:

RESOLVED, that in order for each student to receive quality, focused special education services from trained and fully qualified educators and support staff, an equitable and enforced student-to-teacher ratio is just, adjusting for core versus alternative curriculum, for special day class programs, self-contained or otherwise, to include but not be limited to: autism core, autism alternative curriculum, intellectually disabled, emotionally disturbed, severely handicapped, etc., in order to provide the access and instruction each child requires; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will advocate for the establishment of caseload caps by the U.S. Department of Education for every special education program and classification in all states and territories where the AFT has local affiliates.

Adopted 9/29/2022