||Volume 16, Number 4, March 2004
TEACHERS SPEAK OUT
The biggest changes I’ve seen in the last two years are…
I am a special education support teacher, so I really see that the funding freeze has reduced services for the students I serve. Also, the reduced library time is noticeable. The Grade 4 and 5 classes at my school are full, and the students are having to get by with less attention. The students with learning disabilities get by with less or no assistance in their classrooms, and many of them are wait-listed for placement in district programs where they can be taught in a special way suited for their learning disability. I fear that they will never be able to get into those programs.
There are too many people in my classes! I have less time to give students the individual attention they deserve.
In my foods classes, I have students who do not speak English. How am I going to teach and evaluate students at the Grade 12 level when they do not understand a word I say?
Services to special education students have been decimated. Our teacher assistants’ time has been halved. More than half the academic classes in my school have more than 31 students, with some as high as 35. No class would have had more than 30 last year. School busing in our district is greatly reduced, forcing students to walk on very busy roads and highways.
We now fundraise to meet classroom needs. I never envisioned fundraising as part of a teacher’s job when I began teaching 28 years ago.
We have larger classes, including a three-way split. Just as Christy Clark is announcing her literacy initiative, her policies are making it harder for me (a classroom teacher who has spent 30 years studying literacy and young children) to continue to achieve the literacy successes that I previously managed.
My colleagues struggle with high-needs children with special needs with diminishing supports. All of this while Christy Clark continually tells the public all will be well just as soon as we get those teachers!
I have many more students with challenges, and I have less practical support in terms of materials and personnel. We are doing more with less. I am amazed that parents are not more upset at the trend in education to cut and slash and leave the bones of a previously viable system.
The reduction of teacher-librarians restricts library service, which in turn, limits the support to the best teaching strategies of resource-based, discovery learning. The teacher-librarians’ knowledge about best resources, promotion of resources and evaluation of resources from literature to the Internet are not being utilized. Everyone loses.
Class sizes of 31 at the intermediate level mean students do not get the individual attention they need.
My students with special needs have fewer opportunities to integrate into mainstream classes because the mainstream classes are all full and the mainstream teachers have fewer resources on hand to support students.
There are more guidelines to the ESL program, which have serious effects on the classroom program. There is limited or no support for students with learning disabilities. Resource time is inadequate because of the combined ESL/resource model due to financial cutbacks. Students with English as their first language, who are experiencing learning difficulties, are being hit the worst.
Classes can be overloaded with students with special needs, students with behavioural difficulties, and ESL students and teachers are left with an impossible job.
These comments from teachers reflect the changes teachers have seen in school since the B.C. Liberals stripped learning conditions from our collective agreement. They are not in any way intended to be a comment on the work of colleagues.
You can speak up about public education by going to bctf.ca/SpeakUp.html.