PANEL APPROVES ANGELINI/SIMON LEGISLATION CREATING TASK FORCE TO IMPROVE SPECIAL EDUCATION

The Assembly Education Committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Mary Pat Angelini and Donna Simon that would create a task force to improve the funding, delivery and effectiveness of special education programs and services in New Jersey. “It’s time for a comprehensive examination of New Jersey’s special education programs to determine a more efficient and effective way of helping students achieve their fullest potential,” said Angelini, R-Monmouth. “New Jersey has some outstanding special education teachers and programs and we can apply their best practices to improve programs throughout the state.” Angelini and Simon sponsor a bipartisan bill, A-1365, that was first introduced by Assemblyman Dave Rible, R-Monmouth, 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. “This task force will provide the blueprint we need to build a better model of special education that is focused first and foremost on student achievement,” Simon, R-Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer and Middlesex, said. “This task force will reflect the best ideas of talented educators, caring advocates and passionate parents who have the best insight into we need to make New Jersey’s special education system the best in the nation.” 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. ####

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