Parents of special needs students worried about funding announcement

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While she’s happy for the teachers, Tracy Humphries fears creating 1,100 full-time teaching positions will backfire badly for special needs students.

The Ministry of Education has announced it will immediately provide $50-million to hire new teachers and improve student supports as part of an interim deal following last year’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling against the provincial government.

Humphries, a member of BC Parents of Special Needs Children, says many experienced teachers and education assistants will be prompted to leave their current positions.

“You’re going to see movement of teachers from very small towns to large areas. That is a concern because that kind of upheaval can do harm to special needs children.”

She also worries a lot of the new positions will go to teachers right out of school, who don’t have training and skill sets to deal with special needs students.

“One of the other concerns I have is that I don’t know where they’re going to get all these teachers. Where are they going to find special education teachers? Universities haven’t been training them in the last 15 years since the Ministry of Education enacted the original decision on class size and composition. They don’t bother training them because they came to the conclusion there’s no jobs.”

She points out the key issues for kids that are challenged in the classroom continue to be the lengthy wait times to be assessed as ‘special needs’ and the lack of time those students actually have with an educational assistant.

She says it can take years for a student to get a ‘special needs’ designation, because it takes so long to get an assessment.

Once they have the designation, Humphries says the student may require a full-time Education Assistant, but often the kids only get the EA half the time, or have to share the assistant with other kids in the class.

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