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PRIORITIES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

A Brief to the Ministry of Education from the BC Teachers’ Federation, August 2017 

Inclusive Education: Resources

The issue

The BCTF has spent 15 years working through the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, to restore resources and supports to classrooms. These resources are essential to supporting meaningful inclusion for children with special needs and the entire community of learners and teachers.

Background

The BCTF has a long history of strong commitment to inclusion and advocating for the conditions that allow students with special needs, and all students, to receive the quality education they deserve.

Our continued focus on class composition is an important component in identifying resources and classroom supports needed to provide meaningful inclusion for children with special needs. The teachers’ collective agreement, as it applies in some districts, has language that requires that additional classroom resources be provided when students with special needs are included. In some districts, when more than a specified number of students with special needs are included in a class, the size of the class must be reduced to help the teacher meet the needs of all the students. In other districts, contract provisions state that if the number of students with individualized education plans (IEPs) is over a specified number, then actions must be taken to meet the needs in that classroom. The principle applies in all districts that special needs must be taken into account in assigning resources to classrooms.

The 2012 Moore decision at the Supreme Court of Canada determined that school districts have the obligation to provide a program that addresses the educational needs of students with special needs. The BCTF provided support for this case because we believe it is the obligation of school districts to provide programs and resources that meaningfully and substantially meet the educational needs of children with special needs. We also strongly believe that the province has the obligation to provide stable and adequate funding to districts to enable them to meet their obligations to all students.

Key recommendations

Recommendation 1

Policies and funding to adequately support inclusion should be among the top priorities to be addressed.

Recommendation 2

Developing (with the BCTF, the Association of the BC Deans of Education, and others) a plan of action to ensure that sufficient numbers of speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, learning assistance teachers, special education teachers, and other teachers are available in all school districts.

Recommendation 3

Taking concrete steps to significantly shorten waitlists for psychometric assessments so that students that qualify for a special education designation receive early intervention and the necessary supports, regardless of where in the province the student is going to school.

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