The coalition of parents, teachers, and support workers who spearheaded the Langley Special Education Inquiry in the fall of 2007 met in Victoria today with Minister of Education Shirley Bond to discuss the lack of services available for students with special needs.
In the fall, the Langley Teachers’ Association, CUPE Local 1260, and the Langley District Parent Advisory Council co-sponsored an independent inquiry into the working and learning conditions of special education teachers and students in Langley. In its report released in January 2008, the panel reached 16 key conclusions, 6 of which were directly related to decisions at the provincial level.
“We applaud the members of the Langley coalition for their leadership and tenacity,” says Irene Lanzinger, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation. “The coalition is really speaking on behalf of all of us. Why does this government continue to abandon our students with special needs? Every district throughout the province has reported record numbers of classes with four or more students with special needs and overburdened specialist teachers.”
This year, the number of classes with four or more students grew by over 8% over 2006–07. The ministry reports that 10,313 classes had four or more students with special needs compared to 9,559 in 2006–07. The Inquiry report also noted that a broader provincial scenario of underfunding of special education has gone on for years.
“We are calling on this government to get its spending priorities straight,” says Lanzinger. “Instead of putting more and more money into ad hoc programs and administrative salaries, put it into classrooms and services for students with special learning needs.”