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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 3, November/December 2007

Langley special education inquiry wraps up

By Susan Fonseca

After three days of back-to-back presentations, the Langley Special Education Inquiry, co-sponsored by the Langley Teachers’ Association, CUPE 1260, and the Langley District Parent Advisory Council, wrapped up the public hearing process. The Steering Committee was overwhelmed with the level of participation in both the focus groups and the public hearings:

  • 100+ hearing presentations
  • 89 focus group participants (teachers, support workers, and parents)
  • 48 participating work sites
  • 15 inquiry hours
  • 14 focus group hours

Panelists heard or received written submissions from a variety of individuals, local specialist associations, and community groups. We were very fortunate that all three panelists were gracious in terms of going overtime at every one of the six hearings to ensure that all presenters were heard. At the final hearing, both CUPE 1260 and the LTA gave up their allotted presentation times to allow a number of unscheduled parents to address the panel. (Our presentations were submitted in written format and we have subsequently been able to respond to the panelists’ specific questions).

Speaker after speaker described deteriorating conditions for students with special needs in Langley: too few specialist teachers, excessive paperwork and crushing caseloads for those who remain in the system; a deplorable lack of resources for students with special needs integrated into regular classes; oversized regular and resource classes; long wait lists for psycho-educational assessments; and frustration and anger at the provincial government for making local school districts accountable for the student outcomes while not taking responsibility for funding the system adequately.

The panelists went away with several thick packages of written submissions and they’ve been busy reading these and requesting further background information from the local and the Ministry of Education. At the time of writing, the panelists are back in Langley working on their report expecting to release it in January.

Susan Fonseca is 1st vice-president, Langley Teachers’ Association.

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