Testimony from Curtis Harris

CPS Board of Education

Testimony from Curtis Harris
CPS Board of Education
August 24, 2016

Good Morning my name is Curtis Harris. I was the first student to enroll in the autistic program on January 9, 1984. I was in the autistic program for 6 years then I was in the severe learning disability program for two years until I graduated from the 8th grade. I was in the severe profound program combined with students with autism, severe autism, developmental disability and severe developmental disability and learning disability for my freshman and sophomore years in High School. I was in the regular learning disability program for my junior and senior year of high school. I was in special education for 13 years going through 5 autistic teachers, 8 severe learning disability teachers in 2 years and the severe profound teacher for just 3 months during my freshman year. By having the behavioral therapist in the severe profound classroom for the rest of my freshman year it deprived me of quality education as I went to college unprepared. I had a very low score on the ACT exam indicating I didn’t get a quality education from the special education program. I suffered from lack of qualified special education teachers from the 7thgrade through the end of my freshman year of High School.

With years of inadequate special education funding from state and federal sources, students with disabilities suffer from lack of qualified teachers and quality education. CPS has failed many special education students, leaving them unprepared for college and life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.5% of people with a disability were employed in 2015, compared to 65% of people without a disability (1). Without a good education students with disabilities will not have tools to get good paying jobs.

If you make budget cuts in special education, and deprive students of qualified teachers and teachers' aides, they will fall through the cracks in the school system. Without a quality education students will not have the credentials for jobs. Because education is related to good health, their health will suffer as well.
We urge you to fund special education fully, and to do so by taxing those who can most afford to pay.