Letter: Special kids not well served by education conflict

Dear Editor,

With the issue of class size and composition back in the courts, I re-read a letter that I had written two years ago during the last round of job action taken by teachers.

Unsurprisingly, details about the learning conditions for children with special needs that I mentioned in my previous letter have not changed at all, despite Ministry of Edcation claims that it has been increasing its support for public education.

My students, whose special needs include autism, Tourettes, mild mental handicaps, severe behaviour disorders, gifted, seizure disorders, depression, anxiety, and learning disabilities, continue to be warehoused in classrooms of at least 30 children.

I am currently providing support to five identified special needs students and several non-identified children in each of the Grade 5, 6 and 7 classes in my school. How can programs for these children not suffer when I am supporting 30 students instead of 15, as was the case in the days before Christy Clark eliminated caseload guidelines for special education teachers?

Through my involvement in both the local and provincial special education associations, I know that excessive case loads are the norm in numerous schools throughout the province.

Many of my students desperately need counseling and would benefit from library programs, both of which have been cut to the point of being ineffective.

Every day I look into the faces of children who have been let down by our education system. After 30 years as an educator, I know what the best practices look like, but for the past 12 years, life has only become more and more challenging for my students, their parents, and those of us who work with these children.

If the Liberal government is so concerned about job creation, why haven’t they reinstated the 1,400 specialist positions that have been cut from the education of our most vulnerable children?

Instead of wasting money on another court challenge, why doesn’t the Ministry of Education restore the funding that should never have been taken away in the first place? Hasn’t the government learned anything from its mistakes?

Debbie Maloway, Cloverdale

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