AFT Resolution

SUPPORT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AND SPECIAL EDUCATORS

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

WHEREAS, districts have been forced to increase the number of students with disabilities 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 students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, many educators are not fully prepared via appropriate credentials in order to adapt curriculum to meet the changing needs of students with disabilities; 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 California Federation of Teachers’ rank-and-file membership is centered around providing a continuum of services for students with disabilities; 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:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will research the noncompliance of IDEA and the impact made regarding noncompliance on students with disabilities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will consider holding regional special education summits, potentially using the California Federation of Teachers’ Special Education Summit structure; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will establish a national summit and/or a TEACH (Together Educating America’s Children) session dedicated to special education best practices, possibly via AFT’s region divisional structure; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will establish links on its website to collect, vet and archive documents regarding special education best practices.

(2021)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.