The Assembly Education Committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible that would create a task force to improve the funding, delivery and effectiveness of special education programs and services in New Jersey. “Many families with special needs children have been frustrated with their experiences in the public school system. Although there are some exceptional special education programs in New Jersey, we can do better,” Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, said. “This task force will leave no stone unturned in its quest to find ways to make special education more efficient and effective with a greater emphasis on student achievement.” Rible introduced the bill, A-1365, in response to an Asbury Park Press series in 2010 on New Jersey’s special education system. The series, “Special Care, Unknown Costs,” questioned the cost and effectiveness of the state’s various special education programs. The series revealed a lack of standards and little oversight of how the $3 billion spent on special education every year is utilized. Under the bill, the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students would study various issues including: • Methods of classifying and education special needs students. • Best practices for special education. • Strategies to reduce costs associated with out-of-district placements. • Standards to ensure programs meets students’ needs and focus on achievement. “Ultimately, this task force will help move our education system closer to the high-quality education we all want to give special education students the opportunity to succeed,” Rible said. “The members, coming from a number of different backgrounds, will join together with the singular goal of making New Jersey’s special education programs the most effective for the students and families who rely on them.” The task force would consist of the state Education Commissioner and 16 members appointed by the Governor, included parents, teachers, administrators and advocates involved in the special education community. The task force would have 180 days after it organizes to present its findings and recommendations. The bipartisan legislation is also prime-sponsored by Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini, Jason O’Donnell and Donna Simon, and Senators Jennifer Beck and Teresa M. Ruiz. “I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support of this critical issue affecting education in just about every community in New Jersey,” Rible said. ####
"The governor still has to come to bat."