Chicago Schools Chief: Cost A Driver In Special Ed Overhaul
At a state hearing Friday on Chicago Public Schools’ troubled special education program, new Schools CEO Janice Jackson said cost was one driver of its controversial overhaul. Jackson also said she has fired all consultants, including those who helped orchestrate the special education changes.
“We were a district in crisis,” Jackson told state lawmakers. “I would be telling a lie if I said that we were not looking for ways to save money.”
Jackson’s comments came during a six-hour hearing before a state education committee. In addition to grilling Jackson and other CPS officials, lawmakers blasted state education leaders, saying they should have recognized serious problems with Chicago’s special education program and demanded that those problems be fixed.
“You have the ability to look at these things, and then all of the sudden, it sprouts fully formed like from the head of Zeus,” state Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, said to State Board of Education leaders at the hearing. “How did you miss that?
Rep. Representative Robert Pritchard, R-Sycamore, told state officials they had failed the children of Chicago.
The hearing was prompted by a WBEZ investigation found that sweeping changes to the city’s special education program beginning in 2016 resulted in cutbacks in services for special needs students but savings for the school district. WBEZ also found that outside consultants without special education expertise were instrumental in crafting the overhaul.