The BC Teachers’ Federation is strongly endorsing the report of the Langley Special Education Inquiry released yesterday. “This report, by a blue-ribbon panel of education experts, reinforces what we have been saying for five years,” said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger. “We have protested for years the chronic and tragic underfunding of students with special needs. The panel quite clearly agrees with that assessment.”
The Teachers’ Federation says it is routinely ignored by the education minister when it raises this issue. “Maybe,” said Lanzinger, “the government will listen to this independent panel and finally come up with the funding that students and their teachers so desperately need.”
Lanzinger had high praise for the panel’s work and for the collaboration between the Langley Teachers’ Association, the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), and CUPE Local 1260. The three education stakeholders came together and set up the inquiry after the district board of education ignored pleas for action.
The report was produced by a three-person panel of education experts: Nadine Guiltner, former classroom teacher; Dr. Shirley McBride, former education ministry official; and Mike Suddaby, former school superintendent. The highlight of their inquiry was six days of public hearings which witnessed 110 presentations by parents, teachers, and concerned citizens.
The panel’s report blasted the government in several places in its conclusions, stating bluntly that special education services would not recover to their previous level “...unless the province addresses the historical funding shortfall.” The report criticizes the new funding formula, stating “This does not mask the fact that these areas have been chronically underfunded for sometime.” The government’s recent pledge to speed up the assessment of students will be “…a waste of time and money...” if appropriate services do not follow.
The BCTF will be encouraging local teacher associations to use the report and its conclusions to approach their own boards. “The excellent recommendations to the Langley school district apply in varying degrees to districts across the province. Teachers will be talking to their boards to encourage them to study these recommendations and see where they might apply in their districts.”
“Now is the time for Minister Shirley Bond and the government to quit denying there is a problem,” said Lanzinger. “This report provides an excellent basis for acting to resolve the special education issue once and for all.”