Statement as released by the offices of Assembly Rep. Jennifer Beck and Dave Rible:
Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible and Sen. Jennifer Beck to create a task force to improve the funding, delivery and effectiveness of special education programs and services in New Jersey was signed into law today by Governor Christie.
“This is a victory for the hundreds of parents I’ve met while visiting schools and special education programs who feel that their kids are falling through the cracks,” Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, said. “We can’t walk away from these families and this task force will examine everything to make special education more efficient and effective in a meaningful reform of our system that will benefit our special needs children.
“This is one of the most emotional issues I’ve been involved in, and I’m gratified that Governor Christie signed this bill,” Rible added.
Rible and Beck introduced the bill, S-600 / 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.
“As we look to reform and improve education throughout the state we cannot ignore our special needs students,” explained Beck, R-Monmouth. “Numerous inconsistencies have been uncovered in special education programs throughout the state. Millions of dollars are being wasted every year on inefficient and ineffective special education programs. Every student is valuable and deserves the best we can provide, but this can be accomplished in a much more efficient manner.”
The Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students will 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.
The task force will 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 has 180 days after it organizes to present its findings and recommendations.The bipartisan legislation was also prime-sponsored by Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini, Jason O’Donnell and Donna Simon, and Sen. Teresa M. Ruiz.